The United Kingdom based Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS Society) recently announced £1.98 million in grants to new MS research projects in different disease-related areas. A panel of experts carefully selected 16 projects to be funded through the MS Society’s 2015 grant round, totaling £1,979,879.
All selected projects fulfill the requirements of high scientific quality, sound evidence base, and alignment with the MS Society’s research strategy. Moreover, the relevance of the projects was validated by patients with MS. The 16 awarded applications were grouped into four topics: cause, cure, care and services, and symptom management.
Within the topic of care and services, two projects were awarded. One of them, led by Dr. Ana Manzano from the University of Leeds, will receive £156,112 and is entitled “Weighing up the pros and cons of disease modifying therapies.” The goal of the project is to help healthcare professionals and patients with relapsing-remitting MS in the decision-making process regarding treatment with disease modifying therapies (DMTs). There are currently 11 DMTs available on the market, and it can be challenging to decide which option is the best in each individual case. Every DMT has its pros and cons, and unfortunately some of the most effective therapies have the highest risk of side effects.
The research team will develop a survey, with the help of healthcare professionals and MS patients, that aims to enable both groups to better choose between multiple treatments. Researchers expect to enlist over 500 patients on the MS Register to complete their questionnaire, which in turn will be the basis of the survey. This project is relevant as it will allow a deeper understanding of how MS patients perceive, and how effectively healthcare professionals communicate, the pros and cons of the various DMTs.
The second project is titled “Learning about interactions between people with MS and health care professionals” and is led by Dr. Andrew Soundy from the University of Birmingham. The project was awarded £12,896, and will focus on ways to improve the understanding of how MS patients and healthcare professionals interact with each other. The team will analyze these interactions, and summarize the perceptions of MS patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.
The idea is that identifying aspects that contribute positively or negatively to the overall well-being of the patient may help improve how healthcare professionals interact with their patients and provide delicate information, such as the delivery of an MS diagnosis, or ways they can properly educate patients about their disease while respecting their dignity and values. The ultimate goal is to ensure that MS patients have a positive and fruitful experience when they visit their healthcare professional.