A study published in the BMC Neurology journal emphasized that clear and regular communication between physicians and patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) is essential for patient satisfaction with a given treatment, which could result in therapy persistence.
Uwe Zettl and colleagues conducted the study, “Comparative evaluation of patients’ and physicians’ satisfaction with interferon beta-1b therapy,” comparing patient and physician satisfaction regarding the efficacy of interferon beta-1b — Betaferon — treatment. The report results from a prospective national cohort study, BETAPATH, conducted in Germany between 2009 and 2013.
MS is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that requires long-term treatment. Disease modifying therapies (DMTs), such as Betaferon, are used in the clinic as a preventive treatment that can reduce the number of relapses and damage that MS can cause.
Interferon beta-1b therapy is commonly used and well-tolerated by patients. But the therapeutic success of the drug depends highly on patients’ adherence to treatment regimens and on long-term continuation. This is strongly influenced by healthcare professionals and physician involvement.
The study showed that both patients who continued with the treatment for two years, and their physicians, expressed high degrees of satisfaction with Betaferon therapy. The team also reported that patients and physicians who reported being unsatisfied with the therapy ultimately decided to discontinue its use. Therapeutic side effects and psychological symptoms, such as depression, may contribute to non-adherence, ultimately, termination.
Results indicated that it is important for patients and physicians to communicate clearly each one’s evaluation of the treatment, and their satisfaction levels, during scheduled appointments. Other healthcare professionals also have an important role in a patient’s satisfaction with Betaferon treatment, due to the fact that physicians often cannot invest the required time to appointments, so that MS nurses and medical assistants provide key services to patients.
The team also reported that the involvement of family members is important to patients’ satisfaction. Indeed, including family members into treatment plans can lead to better adherence to treatment.
Researchers concluded that better communication between patients and physicians, and coordination of continuity in medical care, are essential to maintaining and improving long-term DMT treatment in MS. Multidisciplinary approaches in therapy and psychological support are important factors in patients’ opinion of a treatment’s benefits, and on commitment to a DMT therapy.