Factors that improve quality of life in people with MS

A recent review has found that higher self-esteem, self-efficacy, resilience and social support are protective factors for quality of life in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Conversely, disability, fatigue, cognitive impairment, depression and unemployment were found to be risk factors for a poor quality of life.

MS has many possible symptoms that have the potential to impact quality of life, and people with the condition tend to report a lower quality of life than the general population. This is because it can interfere with life’s activities such as socialising and going to work.

For this review, researchers at the University of Seville in Spain collaborated with the University Hospital Bonn in Germany and searched three medical databases to conduct their review.

Depression and anxiety were highly studied in the reviewed studies, and both were risk factors for quality of life. High levels of perceived stress, expression of anger and apathy were all found to impact negatively too.

Factors identified as coping strategies that related to higher quality of life included problem resolution, active coping, planning problem-solving, emotional expression, cognitive restructuring, emotional and instrumental social support, and acceptance. Illness acceptance and resilience were identified as protective factors by some studies included in the analyses. In contrast, problem avoidance, behaviour disengagement, social withdrawal, denial, emotion-focused coping strategies, wishful thinking, self-distraction and self-controlled coping were linked to lower quality of life.

Researchers also found that most psychological interventions, such as mindfulness, cognitive-behavioural therapy, self-help groups, and self-management, successfully improved quality of life in these patients.