Predictors of perceived stress in multiple sclerosis population.

TitlePredictors of perceived stress in multiple sclerosis population.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsMayadev A, Stoelb BL, Bamer AM, Ehde DM
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care

Research has demonstrated associations between stressful life events and symptom exacerbation in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Stress may also affect individuals with a disability more severely because of their vulnerable health status and lack of adequate resources. The stress and coping literature shows that patients’ perception of stressors is more predictive of their level of distress and physical symptoms than is number of stressors. To fill gaps in the literature, we explored which factors might contribute to the perception of stress in people with MS. A large cross-sectional sample (n = 1063) of community-dwelling adults with MS completed a self-report mail survey. Information on demographics, health symptoms, social support, and MS disability were collected. Perceived stress was assessed with the 4-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Multiple linear regression modeling was used to identify factors significantly associated with perceived stress. In our sample, the mean PSS score was 6.20 (standard deviation = 3.60), with 28.4% of patients scoring =9 (scale 0–16). Increased depression, fatigue, and level of disability were associated with increased stress, whereas increased social support and age were associated with reduced stress. Of the variance in stress explained by the model, depression explained significantly more variance than any other factor. These results suggest that 1) certain person- and diseaserelated variables play an important role in the perception of stress among people living with MS, and 2) perceived stress in people with MS may be higher than that reported by other chronically ill populations (eg, patients with kidney disease). Although the relationship between depression and perceived stress should be interpreted with caution, our findings could be used to guide development of stress management interventions for patients with MS.

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