Toward a Shared-Care Model of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: Role of the Primary Care Practitioner

Jiwon Oh, Marie Sarah Gagné-Brosseau, Melanie Guenette, Catherine Larochelle, François Lemieux, Suresh Menon, Sarah A. Morrow, Laurence Poliquin-Lasnier, Chantal Roy-Hewitson, Carolina Rush, Anne Marie Trudelle, Paul S. Giacomini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to develop a shared-care model to enable primary-care physicians to participate more fully in meeting the complex, multidisciplinary healthcare needs of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Design: The design consisted of development of consensus recommendations and a shared-care algorithm. Participants: A working group of 11 Canadian neurologists involved in the management of patients with MS were included in this study. Main message: The clinical management of patients with multiple sclerosis is increasing in complexity as new disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) become available, and ongoing safety monitoring is required. A shared-care model that includes primary care physicians is needed. Primary care physicians can assist in the early detection of MS of individuals presenting with neurological symptoms. Additional key roles for family physicians are health promotion, symptom management, and safety and relapse monitoring of DMT-treated patients. General principles of health promotion include counseling MS patients on maintaining a healthy lifestyle; performing standard screening measures; and identifying and treating comorbidities. Of particular importance are depression and anxiety, which occur in >20% of MS patients. Standard work-ups and treatments are needed for common MS-related symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, spasticity, and sleep disorders. Ongoing safety monitoring is required for patients receiving specific DMTs. Multiple sclerosis medications are generally contraindicated during pregnancy, and patients should be counseled to practice effective contraception. Conclusions: Multiple sclerosis is a complex, disabling illness, which, similar to other chronic diseases, requires ongoing multidisciplinary care to meet the evolving needs of patients throughout the clinical course. Family physicians can play an invaluable role in maintaining general health, managing MS-related symptoms and comorbidities, monitoring for treatment-related adverse effects and MS relapses, and coordinating allied health services to ensure continuity of care to meet the complex and evolving needs of MS patients through the disease course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-312
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Neurological Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Primary care
  • Shared care model
  • Symptom management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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