Early and Later Treatment Adopters by the Numbers

Early and Later Treatment Adopters by the Numbers

Last updated: October 2022

Making treatment decisions upon receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) can be difficult as well as confusing. As a part of our 2015 MS in America survey, we asked people who have MS to tell us about their treatment decisions, including information about when they initiated treatment. Here are a few insights we gathered from patients who started treatment upon diagnosis as compared to those who delayed treatment.

5,927 MS patients

Completed the online MS in America 2015 survey, which gathered information about their symptoms and diagnosis journey, as well as their quality of life and treatment experience.

Early and Later Treatment Adopters by the Numbers


Of those surveyed were considered “early treaters,” having started treatment within 3 months of their MS diagnosis. 6% had still not begun treatment at the time of the survey and 22% were classified as “later treaters,” meaning they started treatment more than 3 months after their diagnosis.

1 in 2

Later treaters started experiencing their symptoms after the age of 30, compared to 63% of early treaters.** Similarly, more early treaters were diagnosed after the age of 30 (82%) as compared to 72% of later treaters.**


The average number of initial symptoms early treaters experienced prior to diagnosis, as compared to an average of 2.9 for later treaters**.  At the time of the survey, later treaters were experiencing 6.9 symptoms on average, as compared to 6.8 experienced by early treaters.


Of early treaters were currently diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS and 69% of later treaters**. 8% of early treaters were currently diagnosed with secondary progressive and 15% of later treaters**.

Early and Later Treatment Adopters by the Numbers


Of early treaters were satisfied with the current healthcare professional they see specifically for their MS, similar to later treaters (81%). Over the course of their MS journey, early treaters had seen 4.2 different types of healthcare professionals on average, as compared to the 4.5 seen by later treaters**.


The average number of treatment types early treaters have tried over the course of their MS journey, as compared to 3.3 tried by later treaters**. However, both groups were currently using 1.7 types of treatment to manage their MS.


Of later treaters have avoided MS medication due to cost, as compared to early treaters (24%)**. While both groups had similar usage levels of manufacturer-sponsored financial support (67% of early treaters and 65% of later treaters).


Of later treaters found they are unable to do as much as they used to, whereas only 77% of early treaters cited such**. Similarly, 63% of later treaters and 60% of early treaters found they were having difficulty getting things done around the house**.

Early and Later Treatment Adopters by the Numbers


Of later treaters reported being on disability due to MS, as compared to 38% of early treaters**. Similarly, 48% of later treaters indicated they are unable to work due to their MS, as compared to 39% of early treaters**.

2 in 5

Later treaters cited that MS has impacted their relationship with their significant other at least quite a bit, whereas only 1 in 3 of early treaters found that their MS has such impact**.

The decision of when to begin treatment for MS is a personal one. You and your doctor should discuss options and decide what’s right for you. MS In America survey responses showed that while some people may delay treatment if they have fewer MS symptoms, those who started treatment earlier following diagnosis reported the current impact of MS was less on their relationships and their quality of life.

**The differences between the two groups is statistically significant (p < .05)

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