Being lonely can be very difficult to define as it is not only the popularly assumed situation of being alone. You can be lonely in a room full of people if you don’t know anyone well enough to speak to them; conversely, you can be happy when alone, in your own company.
So, it was with these thoughts firmly in my mind that I looked at the loneliness study presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) last week.
Unsurprisingly, researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center established that the burden of loneliness is much higher in people with multiple sclerosis than healthy people.
Additionally, loneliness was also found to be associated with both physical and psychological quality of life. Not so amazingly, variations in loneliness scores were affected by marital status and social disability frequency, accounting for a quarter of all the variations encountered.
Their findings were presented in their study Loneliness in Multiple Sclerosis: Putative Antecedents and Manifestations in which 63 MS patients and 21 healthy controls completed self-report measures. This seems, to me, to be an extremely small, if not tiny, sample on which to base a study; but who am I to argue that point?
MS more lonely
The researchers, following Peplau and Perlman’s (1979) theory of loneliness, investigated the prevalence of loneliness in MS patients. The team also examined patients’ personal characteristics, disability, and functional limitations as reasons for loneliness.
In conclusion, the results suggested that MS patients experience higher burdens of loneliness compared to healthy individuals. They also show that the possible causes or origins of loneliness may include marital and employment status, age, and functional and disability frequency and limitations. The team also concluded that manifestations of loneliness in MS include anxiety, depression, fatigue, and reduced quality of life.
Now, I have no desire to decry the work of these researchers but I have to wonder why they went to the trouble of discovering absolutely nothing. I could have come up with the same results just from my own experience of meeting and talking with others who have MS.
And, in response to Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s story about this research, Kimberly Roberts commented: “I wonder how much money was spent on this study? Most people with MS already know all about loneliness. Maybe somebody could have asked. Could have saved someone a lot of money, that could be used looking for a CURE!!!”
Exactly right, Kimberly. Anyway, now they have done it, I look forward to the results being used positively for the benefit of MS patients, families, carers and medical staff. Mind you, I cannot imagine where or how that may be achieved.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this blog article are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Multiple Sclerosis.