Self-estimated health can be used for comparison of different diseases between countries. It is important to elaborate on whether disparities in self-estimated health are due to disease-specific parameters or socioeconomic differences. In this study, we aimed at evaluating clinical and social similarities and differences in myasthenia gravis (MG) patients between comparable regions in two Baltic Sea countries, Estonia and Sweden.
This cross-sectional study included southern counties in Sweden and Estonia of comparable size. All patients with a confirmed MG diagnosis were asked to answer two questionnaires including demographic and disease-specific data, lifestyle issues, and mental fatigue (Fatigue Severity Scale [FSS]). Clinical fatigue was assessed objectively through the Quantitative Myasthenia Gravis Score (QMG).
Thirty-six of 92 identified patients in Estonia and 40 of 70 identified MG patients in Sweden chose to participate in the study. The demographic characteristics and symptoms reported by the patients were similar. QMG score did not differ; however, the Estonian patients scored their current subjective disease severity significantly higher (5.6 ± 2.8) compared to the Swedish patients (3.4 ± 2.3, p = .0005). Estonian patients also had significantly higher FSS scores (5.0 ± 1.7) than Swedish patients (3.5 ± 1.6; p = .001). Swedish patients were more active and performed physical activity more regularly (29.1% in Estonia and 74.2% in Sweden, p = .004).
Although, the patients had comparable clinical fatigue, Estonian patients evaluated their health state as being more severe and reported more mental fatigue than Swedish patients. These data indicate large regional differences in disease perception of MG, which is important to consider in international studies.
We compared clinical and social similarities and differences in patients with myasthenia gravis in Estonia and Sweden. Although the patients had comparable clinical fatigue, Estonian patients evaluated their health state as being more severe and reported more mental fatigue than Swedish patients.