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The epidemiology of multiple sclerosis in Devon: A comparison of the new and old classification criteria

Fox, C M; Bensa, S; Bray, Issy; Zajicek, J P


C M Fox

S Bensa

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Issy Bray
Associate Professor in Public Health (Epidemiology)

J P Zajicek



To determine the prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Devon and compare the new McDonald classification guidelines with the Poser criteria currently used.


All patients known to have multiple sclerosis and alive and resident within the chosen area on 1 June 2001 were included in the study. Seven sources of case ascertainment were used and each patient was classified according to both the Poser criteria and the McDonald guidelines.


The prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Devon was 118 per 100,000 (definite and probable cases, Poser criteria) in a population of 341,796, on the prevalence day. The prevalence of definite and possible cases, as classified by the new McDonald guidelines, was slightly lower at 117 per 100,000. Clinical demographics of the prevalent population were similar to those of other studies in the United Kingdom.


This is first survey to use the new recommended guidelines and compare these criteria with the Poser classification. The difficulties encountered with applying the new criteria in research are highlighted, as are the differences between the new and old criteria. This study reports one of the highest prevalences in the south of the UK, adding support for a north-south divide being a step effect rather than a latitudinal gradient.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2004
Journal Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry
Print ISSN 0022-3050
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 75
Issue 1
Pages 56-60
Keywords epidemiology, multiple sclerosis, Devon, classification criteria
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