Aim: To determine how the diagnosis and symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) impact interpersonal relationships. Participants & methods: Data were obtained from a convenience sample of 1010 individuals with MS responding to an online survey; responses were compared with results of a fibromyalgia survey. Results: MS participants had few negative perceptions of relationships with romantic partners/children/close friends but described the impact of fatigue and limited mobility as feelings of being not well understood by others, burdensome and isolated. Conclusion: Despite increasing disability/pain severity, most patients with MS reported high satisfaction levels and few negative perceptions of relationships with romantic partners/children/close friends. Future research should focus on identifying effective coping strategies used by satisfied couples and improving access to high-quality relationship-enrichment programs.
Keywords: autoimmune; chronic health; disability; fibromyalgia; multiple sclerosis; pain severity; quality of life; relationships.