Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) are at risk for communication problems that may restrict their ability to take participation in important life roles such as maintenance of relationships, work, or household management. The aim of this project is to examine selected demographic and symptom-related variables that may contribute to participation restrictions. This examination is intended to aid clinicians in predicting who might be at risk for such restrictions and what variables may be targeted in interventions. Community-dwelling adults with MS (n=216) completed a survey either online or using paper forms. The survey included the 46-item version of the Communicative Participation Item Bank, demographics (age, sex, living situation, employment status, education, and time since onset of diagnosis of MS), and self-reported symptom-related variables (physical activity, emotional problems, fatigue, pain, speech severity, and cognitive/communication skills). In order to identify predictors of restrictions in communicative participation, these variables were entered into a backwards stepwise multiple linear regression analysis. Five variables (cognitive/communication skills, speech severity, speech usage, physical activity, and education) were statistically significant predictors of communication participation. In order to examine the relationship of communicative participation and social role variables, bivariate Spearman correlations were conducted. Results suggest only a fair to moderate relationship between communicative participation and measures of social roles. Communicative participation is a complex construct associated with a number of self-reported variables. Clinicians should be alert to risk factors for reduced communicative participation including reduced cognitive and speech skills, lower levels of speech usage, limitations in physical activities and higher levels of education.
Learning outcomes: The reader will be able to: (a) describe the factors that may restrict participation in individuals with multiple sclerosis; (b) list measures of social functioning that may be pertinent in adults with multiple sclerosis; (c) discuss factors that can be used to predict communicative participation in multiple sclerosis.
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; Participation; Speech.
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