Using an Intervention Mapping Approach to Improve Adherence to Disease-Modifying Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis

Int J MS Care. 2023 Sep-Oct;25(5):206-213. doi: 10.7224/1537-2073.2022-018. Epub 2023 Sep 14.


Background: Up to 50% of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are prescribed disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) do not take them as advised. Although many studies report on DMT adherence rate, few studies report on interventions involving individuals with MS. The current paper describes the development of an intervention aimed at improving adherence to DMTs among identified nonadherent individuals with MS.

Methods: An intervention was developed using an Intervention Mapping approach, recommendations from reviews on medication adherence, and input from individuals with MS. Its content was determined by theories of health behavior (specifically, a perceptions and practicalities approach), empirical evidence collected among the specific target population (an observational "needs assessment" stage [n = 186]), and other studies.

Results: A personalized intervention was tailored to the reasons for nonadherence, uncovered during the observational needs assessment stage, to be delivered sequentially by a neurologist and a psychologist. After the intervention objectives were identified, components of the intervention were set: psychoeducation and ways of coping with adverse effects; modification of unhelpful treatment beliefs (such modifications were found predictive of adherence in the observational phase of the study); improving confidence and self-efficacy; and developing strategies for remembering to take DMTs. These components were embedded within motivational interviewing.

Conclusions: Intervention Mapping was useful in developing an intervention grounded both in the theoretical approach of perceptions and practicalities and in empirical evidence from the literature and the target sample; concurrently, identifying determinants that the intervention did not address. The effectiveness of the intervention-which could potentially improve adherence among individuals with MS-needs to be examined.

Grants and funding

FUNDING/SUPPORT: This work was supported in part by Novartis, Biogen Idec, Sanofi-Genzyme, and Merck Serono.