Health Promotion in Multiple Sclerosis: Problems and Desire for Help.

TitleHealth Promotion in Multiple Sclerosis: Problems and Desire for Help.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsBlake K, Bombardier CH, Cunniffe M, Dollar C, Kraft GH
JournalInternational Journal of MS

Introduction: There is increasing interest in the potential benefits of health promoting behaviors. However, little is known about the extent to which people with multiple sclerosis (MS) identify problems amenable to health promotion efforts or indicate interest in health promotion activities. Objective: In this project, we compare the rates of common MS related problems with corresponding interest in obtaining help to address these problems. Method: 826 persons with MS completed a survey mailed from the University of Washington Research and Training Center in MS. The survey contained questions regarding fatigue impact, social support and whether, in the past month, the person had been bothered by problems that could be addressed by health promotion interventions. Results: 34% of persons surveyed indicated possible or probable problems with anxiety. 47% rated possible or probable problems with social support and 61% of participants indicated problems with fatigue. 68% were bothered by being less active or exercising less than they could. There were no gender-related differences on any of these issues. Greater anxiety was associated with younger age. Many people were somewhat or very interested in learning more about ways to: cope with stress (70%), improve communication (58%), decrease loneliness (56%), exercise/improve fitness (86%), and cope with fatigue (85%). There was infrequent interest (10%) in learning ways to reduce alcohol or drug use. Not surprisingly, reports of possible or probable problems with anxiety, social support and fatigue significantly predicted the desire for help in the corresponding areas. Conclusion: We conclude that many people with MS acknowledge problems and are eager to learn more about both physical and psychosocial complications of their disease. There appear to be numerous opportunities to engage them in health promoting activities. New models of health promotion are needed that can help people change with limited professional involvement.

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