According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), a high priority for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) is to achieve an overall feeling of well-being, or “wellness.” Increasingly, people with the disease want to know how can they feel their best, and if lifestyle interventions can affect the course of their condition. However, while trying to achieve personal wellness, MS individuals feel there is a lack of support from health professionals, which can lead to frustration.
Health professionals, on the other hand, report that there is a need for more evidence for wellness provision interventions that can help guide them to treat their patients. Moreover, health professionals may not have the expertise, time or interest to discuss these topics with their MS patients.
People with MS feel the need to understand the role of medication while developing their disease management strategies. This includes understanding drug agents for symptom management, disease-modifying therapies, and the effect of wellness-achieving behaviors like exercise and diet.
According to a news release from the Society, the questions that arise in this context are: “Are both of these approaches necessary? Can or should wellness strategies be used instead of medication(s)? How can the greatest benefits be gained, and how soon?”
For people dealing with MS, three areas of wellness have been consistently reported: diet, exercise and depression. MS patients feel the need to understand what is the best approach to disease management via exercise and diet. Patients also report that they feel a strong need to understand how they can manage their mood alterations, especially depression, so they can maintain or achieve emotional wellness.
At a meeting convened by NMSS, MS patients, researchers, healthcare professionals, and Society staff summarized what is currently known about diet, exercise, and emotional issues associated with MS. Key questions to be answered in each of these areas were identified at the meeting, along with research gaps and challenges that should be addressed. Specific recommendations to ensure that people living with MS are getting the personalized support and information they need to achieve wellness were also debated at the meeting, as well as an outline of the next steps to achieve this important priority.
In March 2015, the team published a paper that reflects the opinions, experiences, and consensus recommendations for patients living with MS. The paper can be accessed here.
The team has now published a paper in US Neurology, a free-access, peer-reviewed journal, in order to disseminate the meeting results to the healthcare community. The paper is entitled “Your Patients with Multiple Sclerosis have Set Wellness as a High Priority— And the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is Responding,” and can be accessed here.