A scoping review of rehabilitation interventions that reduce fatigue among adults with multiple sclerosis

Disabil Rehabil. 2015;37(9):729-38. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.944996. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


Objective: To identify and summarize available research literature about rehabilitation interventions for multiple sclerosis (MS) fatigue management.

Methods: Database searches (PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL and PsychINFO) were conducted in October 2011 and last updated in July 2013. To be included, studies must have been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, written in English and included an intervention to manage MS fatigue. Effect size (ES) were calculated for the quantitative studies to estimate intervention effects, and major themes were summarized for the qualitative studies.

Results: Thirty-eight studies were included in this review. A variety of exercise and behavior change interventions were prescribed to adults with MS. The two most common interventions were progressive resistive training and fatigue management programs. Three exercise intervention studies and nine behavior change intervention studies with quantitative data presented significant ES. Four studies with qualitative data supported the positive impact of certain exercise and behavior change interventions.

Conclusions: This review identified a variety of exercise and behavior change interventions for MS fatigue management. While the findings may provide helpful information to inform practice, future researchers need to develop and evaluate knowledge translation strategies to facilitate the application of this evidence to daily practice to advance MS rehabilitation care.

Implications for rehabilitation: Both exercise and behavior change interventions demonstrate some degree of effectiveness for managing MS fatigue. Effect sizes for exercise and behavior change interventions are similar, although the populations examined are different. Overall, evidence for exercise focuses on people who are less disabled, while evidence for behavior change interventions includes a broader population. Future researchers need to develop and evaluate knowledge translation strategies that facilitate application of evidence in daily practice in order to advance MS rehabilitation.

Keywords: Adults; evidence-based practice; fatigue; intervention strategies; multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / rehabilitation*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic