Another recent cross-sectional study, published in Neurology, examined possible associations between disease severity, race, and socioeconomic status in Americans with MS. Of the study’s 7,530 White Americans and 1,214 Black Americans – who were as a group younger, had lower levels of education, and were less likely to be employed than their counterparts – the Black patients had worse odds of severe disability (OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.18-1.86), an average of approximately five fewer correct responses during cognitive processing speed tests (95% CI, –5.72 to –4.41), more brain MRI lesions, and lower overall and gray-matter brain volumes.
Systemic disparities may contribute to MS severity
“Across the board, [Black American] patients with MS appear to have greater burden of inflammatory and neurodegenerative measures of MS, along with worse neurological performance,” lead author Karla Gray-Roncal, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and coauthors wrote.
After multivariate analysis, the study found that lower median household income was associated with slower cognitive processing and walking speeds in the White patients. Lower area deprivation index (ADI) scores were also associated with slower processing and manual dexterity speeds. In Black patients, lower household income was only associated with slower manual dexterity; lower ADI scores were not meaningfully associated with negative outcomes.