As Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month continues, our knowledgeable team at Griswold Home Care has compiled an information-packed blog post for you today!

This blog post features an infographic, article, and SlideShare presentation designed to help you and your loved ones learn more about the “invisible” side of Multiple Sclerosis– the psychosocial barriers.

Blog post by Christopher G. Kelly, MEd
Director of Learning and Development – Griswold Home Care

Our challenge

In the midst of National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) month, I thought I would get immersed in the raw, unfiltered, exchanges that occur every day on the many MS social media client blogs and discussion boards. I find it interesting to scroll through the “subject” lines. This helps to quickly identify the barriers, questions, and common themes that are top of mind. 

Here are a few examples from an MS discussion board:

  • “Anxiety or MS…Scared”
  • “Newbie with questions”
  • “Depression and MS”
  • “Taking meds through airport security?”
  • “Scared of romance”
  • “Am I just crazy?”

It is interesting to note the many “non-medical” questions and concerns. In the health education field, we use the term “psychosocial” to capture the many challenges that clients face with barriers such as: emotional issues, educational needs, financial issues, level of support from family and friends, work issues, and relationships.

The impact of MS on quality of life

In a recent study published in the European Journal of Neurology entitled, “Predictors of quality of life among multiple sclerosis patients: a comprehensive analysis,” we learn that these psychosocial barriers are directly tied to quality of life.    

The quality of life in patients with MS is not solely determined by physical disability, but rather by the level of social support, living area, depression, level of education, employment, fatigue and religiosity. Accordingly, we suggest that these should be evaluated in every patient with MS as they may be modified by targeted interventions.” (Yamout et al, 2013)

Talking about psychosocial challenges – Easier said than done

I wonder what percentage of time MS clients and their family caregivers spend talking with their healthcare providers about psychosocial issues?  In the study cited above, the research team seems to assert that these discussions are not happening, and that psychosocial issues need to be more closely evaluated and managed.  This is easier said than done.  In my experience, clients are often reluctant to discuss psychosocial issues due to stigma, embarrassment, and the misperception that nothing can be done.  Healthcare providers are often dealing with time constraints, and focus discussions on the evaluation and treatment of medical issues.  Both barriers are understandable, yet need to be overcome.

Below are some helpful tools and resources that can help clients, family caregivers, and healthcare providers to more effectively understand, uncover, discuss, and overcome the many psychosocial challenges that come with MS. 

Please join this blog and share any thoughts, best practices, or resources that would improve quality of life for people living with MS.

Multiple Sclerosis infographic by Griswold Home Care

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-Yamout, B et. al. (2013) Predictors of quality of life among multiple sclerosis patients: a comprehensive analysis; European Journal of Neurology, DOI: 10.1111/ene.12046.  

For more information check out our Multiple Sclerosis Resources