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Heigenhauser, L.; Confavreux, C.; Daumer, Martin; Ebers, G. C.; Kappos, L.; Lederer, C.; Neiß, A.; Polman, C. and Vukusic, S. (2005): Treating Systematic Errors in Multiple Sclerosis Data. Collaborative Research Center 386, Discussion Paper 435 [PDF, 224kB]


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by high variability between patients and, more importantly here, within an individual over time. This makes categorization and prognosis difficult. Moreover, it is unclear to what degree this intra-individual variation reflects the long-term course of irreversible disability and what is attributable to short-term processes such as relapses, to interrater variability and to measurement error. Any investigation and prediction of the medium or long term evolution of irreversible disability in individual patients is therefore confronted with the problem of systematic error in addition to random fluctuations. The approach described in this article aims to assist in detecting relapses in disease curves and in identifying the underlying disease course. To this end neurological knowledge was transformed into simple rules which were then implemented into computer algorithms for pre-editing disease curves. Based on simulations it is shown that pre-editing time series of disability measured with the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) can lead to more robust and less biased estimates for important disease characteristics, such as baseline EDSS and time to reach certain EDSS levels or sustained progression.

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