Open Access Research article

Use of health services in people with multiple sclerosis with and without depressive symptoms: a two-year prospective study

Charlotte Ytterberg124*, Sanna Lundqvist3 and Sverker Johansson123

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden

2 Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Department of Physical Therapy, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

4 Division of neurology R54, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, Stockholm S-141 86, Sweden

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:365  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-365

Published: 28 September 2013



To organize tailored healthcare for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), knowledge about patterns in the use of healthcare among subgroups, such as those with depressive symptoms, is essential. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore and compare the use of health services in people with MS and depressive symptoms, and without depressive symptoms over a period of 30 months.


Data on the use of health services by 71 people with MS and depressive symptoms, and 102 with no depressive symptoms were collected from a computerised register and by interview, then categorized with regard to disease severity (Expanded Disability Status Scale).


People with EDSS mild and depressive symptoms used more outpatient and inpatient care compared to those with no depressive symptoms. Furthermore, they received more unsalaried informal care as well as intense rehabilitation periods.


The issues underlying the differences in the use of healthcare need to be explored further, as well as the plausible implications for the organization of healthcare services for people with MS and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, the life situations of caregivers of people with MS and depressive symptoms should be considered, and appropriate interventions supplied in order to diminish caregiver burden.

Multiple sclerosis; Depressive symptoms; Longitudinal studies; Prospective studies; Health services; Observational