The psychosocial impact of multiple sclerosis: exploring the patient's perspective

Health Psychol. 1999 Jul;18(4):376-82. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.18.4.376.


This study examined subjective patient experiences of the psychosocial consequences of multiple sclerosis (MS). Fifty patients were interviewed regarding the effects MS had on their lives and interpersonal relationships. These statements were collated and administered with a 5-point Likert scale to 94 MS patients. The responses were subjected to factor analysis. Three areas of subjective patient experience of the psychosocial consequences of MS emerged: demoralization, benefit-finding, and deteriorated relationships. Of particular interest was benefit-finding, which included a deepening of relationships, enhanced appreciation of life, and an increase in spiritual interests. Although benefit-finding was related to adaptive coping strategies such as positive reappraisal and seeking social support, it was unrelated to depression and was related to higher levels of anxiety and anger. These findings indicate that benefit-finding is a substantial and poorly understood part of the illness experience for MS patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Social Adjustment*