Dr Francisco Javier Carod Artal

We are delighted to announce that this year’s MasterClass Project Award winner is Dr Francisco Javier Carod Artal for his epidemiological study of MS in the Highlands region of Scotland.

The MasterClass project is an integral part of the course which attendees undertake on a subject of interest within their own work setting. Dr Artal decided used his MasterClass project as an opportunity to explore the population living with MS in his area, which has important implications for MS resource allocation.

Dr Artal found that MS prevalence and incidence have increased in the Highlands over the last 50 years. This fact may reflect several factors including differences in studies over time, improved diagnostic methods (such as the routine use of MRI and CSF for oligoclonal bands), and also a true increase in prevalence rate due to improved survival, higher incidence rates or a result of migration to the area.

Dr Francisco Javier Carod Artal receives the award

In his discussion, Dr Artal points out that the new modified McDonald clinical criteria for the diagnosis of MS may have an impact in the incidence and prevalence data for MS. Patients with a diagnosis of clinical isolated syndrome (CIS) who have positive oligoclonal bands will be considered as having MS according to the new MS diagnostic criteria.

Prevalence could also be higher than found, he says, because MS patients with advanced disease or secondary progressive MS may not be followed up routinely at MS clinics. So a future study could include requesting information from all GP surgeries about MS patients which will probably enhance the accuracy of prevalence data.

This project which has identified an expanding MS population supports the message that MS services need careful planning to ensure that enough resource continues to be in place to adequately support patients with MS, with enough MS nurses, physiotherapists and neuropsychology specialists to meet their needs. Combining prevalence information with disability data, Dr Artal suggests, would also be helpful if we are to get provision of healthcare services for people with MS just right.

You can read Dr Artal’s project in full here

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