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The prevalence of MS in the United States: A population-based estimate using health claims data

Objective

To generate a national multiple sclerosis (MS) prevalence estimate for the United States by applying a validated algorithm to multiple administrative health claims (AHC) datasets.

Methods

A validated algorithm was applied to private, military, and public AHC datasets to identify adult cases of MS between 2008 and 2010. In each dataset, we determined the 3-year cumulative prevalence overall and stratified by age, sex, and census region. We applied insurance-specific and stratum-specific estimates to the 2010 US Census data and pooled the findings to calculate the 2010 prevalence of MS in the United States cumulated over 3 years. We also estimated the 2010 prevalence cumulated over 10 years using 2 models and extrapolated our estimate to 2017.

Results

The estimated 2010 prevalence of MS in the US adult population cumulated over 10 years was 309.2 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval [CI] 308.1–310.1), representing 727,344 cases. During the same time period, the MS prevalence was 450.1 per 100,000 (95% CI 448.1–451.6) for women and 159.7 (95% CI 158.7–160.6) for men (female:male ratio 2.8). The estimated 2010 prevalence of MS was highest in the 55- to 64-year age group. A US north-south decreasing prevalence gradient was identified. The estimated MS prevalence is also presented for 2017.

Conclusion

The estimated US national MS prevalence for 2010 is the highest reported to date and provides evidence that the north-south gradient persists. Our rigorous algorithm-based approach to estimating prevalence is efficient and has the potential to be used for other chronic neurologic conditions.

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