MS Prevalence Study

In 2004 the MS Society signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Health Research Council of New Zealand to share the cost of funding a national MS Prevalence Study. A contract has now been signed between the HRC and Otago University’s Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences who are undertaking the study.

The most recent figures on MS prevalence are 20 years old—thus the true incidence of MS in this country is unknown. Currently, estimates range from 25 to 70 cases per 100,000 New Zealanders, so providing an accurate measure of the incidence of the condition will have significant impact on policies and services affecting people and families affected by MS.

Furthermore, as this study is the first of its type involving a whole country it will provide data of interest worldwide, particularly with regards to possible relationships between MS and latitude, and whether exposure to ultraviolet radiation in childhood may influence the later onset of the condition.

The full study got underway in early 2006. Auckland and Christchurch were the first regions covered in the study, and investigators were to finish their travels throughout the country by the end of 2006. Interim results were released on 7 August 2006. Results of the study were realised on 31 January 2008.

People with MS are being invited to participate via their neurologist or Society Field Officer. If you have NOT been asked to participate, then contact the study group at:

MS Study Group
Otago University - Christchurch School of Medicine
PO Box 4345

Phone: 0800 MS STUDY (0800 677 8839)

Or you can contact us for more information.

Read more:
About the MS Prevalence Study 

Prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis in New Zealand

Interim results announced August 2006

Innovative Work to Increase Knowledge and Understanding of Multiple Sclerosis
Speech from Hon. Ruth Dyson, Minister for Disability Issues, 7 August 2006

Press Release


Research Papers

Multiple Sclerosis in NZ - S. Alla and D. Mason - September 2013

The Increasing Prevelance of Multiple Sclerosis in New Zealand - S. Alla, J. Pearson, L. Debernard, D. Miller and D. Mason - 15 December 2013

Multiple Sclerosis in New Zealand Maori - J. Pearson, S. Alla, G. Clarke, B. Taylor, D. Miller, A. Richardson, D. Mason - 11 May 2014 - Sage Publications Online