Young adults' adjustment to a recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis: The role of identity satisfaction and self-efficacy

Disabil Health J. 2019 Jan;12(1):72-78. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2018.07.008. Epub 2018 Aug 1.


Background: Although multiple sclerosis (MS) is often diagnosed during young adulthood (18-30 years), there is a lack of knowledge on the psychological adjustment to the illness among recently diagnosed young adult patients.

Objective/hypothesis: The aims of the study were to describe the adjustment to MS (depression, positive and negative affect) in a group of young adult patients and to investigate the role of identity satisfaction and self-efficacy in MS on adjustment. We hypothesized that the relationship between identity satisfaction and adjustment was mediated by self-efficacy (goal setting and symptom management).

Methods: The cross-sectional study involved 66 patients (63.6% women) with a mean age of 25.2 years (SD = 3.4) who had been diagnosed for no more than three years. Patients completed measures of identity satisfaction (Identity Motives Scale), Self-efficacy in MS (SEMS), Depression (CESD-10), Positive and Negative Affect (PANAS). Data were analyzed through factorial ANOVAs and hierarchical regression analysis.

Results: Thirty-eight percent of patients reported depressive symptoms and negative affect mean score was higher than in the general population. Higher identity satisfaction was directly related to lower depression. Self-efficacy in goal setting partially mediated the relationship between identity satisfaction and positive affect, whereas self-efficacy in symptom management totally mediated the effect of identity satisfaction on negative affect. All results were significant at p < 0.05.

Conclusions: The results suggest the usefulness of addressing identity redefinition and self-efficacy in psychological interventions aimed at promoting young adults' adjustment to MS in an early phase of the illness.

Keywords: Depression; Identity; Multiple sclerosis; Self-efficacy; Young adult.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Concept*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Self-Management
  • Young Adult