In today’s healthcare environment, it is often not enough that patients are provided with the latest treatments. Good health is not merely the absence of injury or disease, but overall wellness that includes mental, spiritual and social health. A group of investigators from the Kessler Foundation recently published their findings from a psychoeducational wellness program for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) — an autoimmune neurological disorder that affects between 300,000 and 400,000 Americans and about 2.5 million individuals worldwide.
The researchers at Kessler conducted a 10-week wellness program and noted several improvements in MS patients. Health benefits were seen in patients’ mood, mental health, perceived stress, and pain. The study is currently available online as “Development and effectiveness of a psychoeducational wellness group for individuals living with MS: Description and outcomes.” in the International Journal of MS Care.
Out of 54 MS patients, 43 participated in the wellness program. Every week for ten weeks, they participated in 90-minute sessions meant to positively influence their intellectual, spiritual, and emotional well-being. The remaining 11 comprised the study’s control group, but all participants were assessed for depression, perceived stress, anxiety, mental health, pain, presence and quality of social support and reports of fatigue.
Lead investigator Dr. Kimberly McGuire said that this pilot study’s findings show that MS patients may reap substantial health benefits from a regular wellness program. Despite these positive results, however, she believes further study is needed with a bigger, randomized sample size. There should also be a way to determine the wellness program’s long-term benefits.
One of the cognitive effects of MS is a deterioration in long-term memory. A study from the Kessler Foundation showed that interventions focused on stimulating working memory may help enhance cognitive reserve to prevent long-term memory loss.