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A Physician-Completed Digital Tool for Evaluating Disease Progression (Multiple Sclerosis Progression Discussion Tool): Validation Study

  • Ziemssen, Tjalf1
  • Piani-Meier, Daniela2
  • Bennett, Bryan3
  • Johnson, Chloe3
  • Tinsley, Katie3
  • Trigg, Andrew3
  • Hach, Thomas2
  • Dahlke, Frank2
  • Tomic, Davorka2
  • Tolley, Chloe3
  • Freedman, Mark S4
  • 1 TU Dresden, Dresden , (Germany)
  • 2 Novartis Pharma AG, Basel , (Switzerland)
  • 3 Adelphi Values, Macclesfield , (United Kingdom)
  • 4 University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON , (Canada)
Published Article
Journal of Medical Internet Research
JMIR Publications Inc.
Publication Date
Feb 12, 2020
DOI: 10.2196/16932
PMID: 32049062
PMCID: PMC7055760
PubMed Central
External links


Background Defining the transition from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) can be challenging and delayed. A digital tool (MSProDiscuss) was developed to facilitate physician-patient discussion in evaluating early, subtle signs of multiple sclerosis (MS) disease progression representing this transition. Objective This study aimed to determine cut-off values and corresponding sensitivity and specificity for predefined scoring algorithms, with or without including Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores, to differentiate between RRMS and SPMS patients and to evaluate psychometric properties. Methods Experienced neurologists completed the tool for patients with confirmed RRMS or SPMS and those suspected to be transitioning to SPMS. In addition to age and EDSS score, each patient’s current disease status (disease activity, symptoms, and its impacts on daily life) was collected while completing the draft tool. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves determined optimal cut-off values (sensitivity and specificity) for the classification of RRMS and SPMS. Results Twenty neurologists completed the draft tool for 198 patients. Mean scores for patients with RRMS (n=89), transitioning to SPMS (n=47), and SPMS (n=62) were 38.1 (SD 12.5), 55.2 (SD 11.1), and 69.6 (SD 12.0), respectively ( P <.001, each between-groups comparison). Area under the ROC curve (AUC) including and excluding EDSS were for RRMS (including) AUC 0.91, 95% CI 0.87-0.95, RRMS (excluding) AUC 0.88, 95% CI 0.84-0.93, SPMS (including) AUC 0.91, 95% CI 0.86-0.95, and SPMS (excluding) AUC 0.86, 95% CI 0.81-0.91. In the algorithm with EDSS, the optimal cut-off values were ≤51.6 for RRMS patients (sensitivity=0.83; specificity=0.82) and ≥58.9 for SPMS patients (sensitivity=0.82; specificity=0.84). The optimal cut-offs without EDSS were ≤46.3 and ≥57.8 and resulted in similar high sensitivity and specificity (0.76-0.86). The draft tool showed excellent interrater reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient=.95). Conclusions The MSProDiscuss tool differentiated RRMS patients from SPMS patients with high sensitivity and specificity. In clinical practice, it may be a useful tool to evaluate early, subtle signs of MS disease progression indicating the evolution of RRMS to SPMS. MSProDiscuss will help assess the current level of progression in an individual patient and facilitate a more informed physician-patient discussion.

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