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Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders



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Background: In many clinical situations, ordinal scales afford the primary method of semi-quantifying patient outcomes. In the field of multiple sclerosis, the primary ordinal scale is the Expanded Disability Status Scale. Predominant methods of ordinal scale statistical analysis provide a p-value without effect size or rely heavily on the assumption of proportionality of odds, subjecting them to lack of power and error. The Wilcoxon-Manny-Whitney Odds is a statistical method which provides significant information such as p-value, effect size, number needed to treat, confidence intervals, and is largely assumption-free. However, its utility has not been demonstrated in the field of multiple sclerosis. Methods: Three clinical studies in the field of multiple sclerosis were selected which utilized ordinal scale outcomes at group or individual levels. Data from these studies was extracted using WebPlotDigitizer, and a custom Wilxocon-Mann-Whitney Odds software was applied to each dataset to re-analyze the main outcomes of the studies. Results: Re-analysis of the manuscript by Muraro et al., 2017 demonstrated that autologous stem cell transplantation for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis resulted in a 65% chance of improving from any Expanded Disability Status Scale category, although not significant. Re-analysis of the manuscript by Songthammawat et al., 2019 demonstrated chance of improvement with intravenous methylprednisolone and concurrent plasma exchange was 185% versus 32% in intravenous methylprednisolone with add-on plasma exchange, although not significant. Re-analysis of Kister et al., 2012 demonstrated the chances of mobility or cognition scores generally favored decline at every 5-year increment of study, and although statistically significant, these were smaller effect sizes ranging from an 11% chance of improvement to a 66% chance of decline over a 5-year interval. Discussion: The Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney Odds simplifies ordinal data analysis with its robust largely assumption-free nature. In the place of numerous statistical tests, this single test provides effect size estimate, number needed to treat, p-values, and confidence intervals. Importantly, the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney Odds effect size calculation is intuitively applicable to both individual and population-levels. Further, the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney Odds allows intuitive description of the progression of large cohorts over time, and we were able to clearly convey the odds of mobility and cognitive decline over 30 years in a large multiple sclerosis cohort. Overall, the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney Odds is a powerful and robust statistical test with significant promise within the field of multiple sclerosis.