The temperament of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) can have a significant impact on their health-related quality of life, a study suggests.
The study, “Health-related quality of life in multiple sclerosis: temperament outweighs EDSS,” was published in the journal BMC Psychiatry.
MS patients’s quality of life can be influenced by their personality. In fact, one study showed that traits of introversion and neuroticism are associated with a lower health-related quality of life in MS patients. However, no studies have looked into the influence of temperament on health-related quality of life in MS patients.
Temperament is defined as an emotional, inherited, and temporally stable domain of personality that can be divided into five types — depressive, irritable, anxious, cyclothymic, and hyperthymic.
Depressive, irritable, and anxious temperaments are fairly self-explanatory. Cyclothymic refers to a mood disorder in which an individual experiences mood swings between short periods of mild depression and hypomania, or elevated mood. Hyperthymic temperament is a personality type that is characterized by an exceptionally positive mood and disposition.
Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria set out to determine whether different temperament types have an impact on the health-related quality of life in MS patients.
In total, 139 MS patients were recruited to participate in the study. Patients’ health-related quality of life was measured using a test called the Multiple Sclerosis International Quality of Life Questionnaire (MusiQol), their temperament was measured using the Temperament Evaluation of Memphis, Pisa, Paris, and San Diego Questionnaire — Münster version, and their disability was measured by the expanded disability status scale.
Results indicated that known factors that affect health-related quality of life, such as disease duration, disability, psychiatric conditions, and immunomodulatory treatments, accounted for 30.9% of the proportion of variation in the MusiQol score.
Interestingly, the proportion of variation in the MusiQol score increased to 40.3% when taking into account the depressive temperament, 42.5% for cyclothymic, and 45.8% for hyperthymic temperaments. Irritable and anxious temperaments had no statistically significant influence.
Specifically, an increase in depressive and cyclothymic temperament scores were associated with a significantly reduced global score and, accordingly, a worse health-related quality of life.
In contrast, patients with a hyperthymic temperament had a significantly better MusiQoL score, indicating a better health-related quality of life.
“In MS patients, the depressive and cyclothymic temperament predict a lower and hyperthymic temperament an increased health-related quality of life, independent of current disability status, immunomodulatory treatments, and affective co-morbidities,” the researchers said.
“Prospective evaluation of temperament types in MS patients could help to identify patients early, who need more biopsychosocial support to booster quality of life,” they said. “Evaluating temperaments in MS may also support clinicians to better understand coping strategies, treatment adherence, and decisions on accepting possibly risky treatment options.”