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EBP Compendium: Summary of Systematic Review

Verbal Fluency Deficits in Multiple Sclerosis

Henry, J. D., & Beatty, W. W. (2006).
Neuropsychologia, 44(7), 1166-1174.

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review addresses a clearly focused question No
Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided Yes
Search strategy is described in sufficient detail for replication Yes
Included studies are assessed for study quality Yes
Quality assessments are reproducible No

Description: This is a systematic review of studies pertaining to deficits of semantic and phonemic fluency for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Question(s) Addressed:

Question not specifically stated.

Population: Adults with MS

Intervention/Assessment: Symbol-Digit Modalities Test (SDMT), WAIS Verbal and Vocabulary scales (VIQ), Boston Naming Test (BNT), Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST).

Number of Studies Included: 35

Years Included: Through December 2004



  • "There was no difference in the sensitivity of phonemic and semantic fluency to the presence of MS" (p. 1169). However, there is a difference in phonemic and semantic fluency between MS patients and healthy controls.
  • The findings that phonemic and semantic fluency deficits were of a smaller or comparable magnitude to deficits on the SDMT suggest that "MS may not be particularly associated with executive dysfunction" (p. 1170).
  • "Although patients with a CP disease course are more impaired than patients with an RR course on both types of fluency, we would suggest that this may be attributable to the older age, increased duration of illness and neurological disability which typically accompanies the CP relative to the RR course" (p. 1170).

Keywords: Multiple Sclerosis

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Added to Compendium: March 2012

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