The role of the clinical nurse specialist multiple sclerosis, the patients' and families' and carers' perspective: An integrative review

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2020 Jan 3:39:101918. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2019.101918. Online ahead of print.


Background: MS is a common, neurological disease and it's unpredictable, progressive disabling nature can have a devastating effect on patients, their families' and carers. It is therefore important that the MS Clinical Nurse Specialist develops appropriate skills, services and professional expertise to support individuals along the disease trajectory.

Design: An integrative literature review.

Method: A systematic search of nine databases; Cinahl, Medline, Scopus, Embase, Ovid, AMED, Academic Search Complete, Web of Science, PsycINFO up to January 31, 2018. Hand searching and review of secondary references also undertaken. Reporting using the PRISMA guidelines, quality appraised (Crowe Critical Appraisal Tool) and thematic data analysis approach (Braun and Clarke 2006).

Results: Findings from the 17 studies were extracted, synthesised and analysed thematically. Three themes emerged; the MS CNS as a longitudinal care co-ordinator, a bespoke care provider, and an expert resource. The findings suggest a strong desire for the MS CNS to be a leading health care professional to meet the needs of patient, family, and carer.

Conclusion: It can be argued that MS CNSs are best placed to meet the complex, variable needs individuals with MS, their families and carers. Further evidence is required to explore the variability of the disease and the progressive effect and impact of cognitive decline on MS patient, families' and carers' in order to meet their fluctuating and often complex needs. Findings from the review suggest a multifaceted role, and additionally, the needs of patients, families and carers are difficult to define as they vary over time as the disease progresses.

Keywords: Clinical nurse specialist; Integrative review; Literature review; Multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Review