Psychological Rehabilitation: Promoting Health in People with Multiple Sclerosis.

TitlePsychological Rehabilitation: Promoting Health in People with Multiple Sclerosis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsBlake K, Bombardier CH, Cunniffe M, Boag T, Kraft GH
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine

Background: In persons with multiple sclerosis (MS), disability and quality of life may be influenced by non-disease-related factors such as deconditioning and emotional distress. Therefore, health-promoting behaviors may help improve quality of life (Stuifbergen, 1996). For example, exercise improves not only strength and conditioning, but also fatigue, mood, and social interactions in persons with MS (Petajan et al. 196). Although the potential benefits of exercise, for example, are obvious, it is less clear how these benefits can be made available to more persons with MS. Research Design: Our project tests the efficacy of a brief motivational counseling program to improve the health and wellness of persons with MS. We targeted people who were interested in changing in the following 4 areas: exercise/fatigue management, stress management, communication/social support, and alcohol or drug abuse. The study is a randomized, controlled trial with a 2-group pre-test design and waiting list control. The treatment group receives feedback, one face-to-face motivational interviewing session, and 5 telephone counseling sessions to help them engage in the health promoting behavior of their choice. The control group receives usual care. We used self-report and performance measures to assess activity/exercise, physical conditioning, anxiety/stress, social support, fatigue, health promotion behaviors, and selected cognitive functions at baseline and 3-month outcome. Method: Participants were 18 or older, able to ambulate at least 300 feet without assistance, and had no other health problems that would prevent them from exercising. Results: Thus far, the study has randomized 33 subjects. Pilot data suggest that the majority of patients are able to make significant changes in target activities and there is a high degree of satisfaction with the intervention. Conclusion: Pilot data are promising, however we will not know whether the intervention is efficacious until we analyze results from the entire controlled trial.

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