Relationships between multiple sclerosis patients and their intimate partners were enhanced when the couple worked together to make lifestyle changes, and to develop skills to improve communication, a study shows.
The study, “On the path together: Experiences of partners of people with multiple sclerosis of the impact of lifestyle modification on their relationship,” was published in the journal Health and Social Care.
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience many physical and mental challenges. Further, the unpredictability of the clinical course of the disease can make navigating intimate relationships difficult.
While reports suggest that couples dealing with MS have positive outcomes based on the challenge of facing adversity together, partners of people with MS can experience anxiety, fear, and uncertainty about the diagnosis. They also face challenges with the changes in their relationship roles, as a partner and caregiver.
With declines in the health and well-being of a person with MS, a partner’s physical and mental health-related Quality of Life (HRQOL) also can deteriorate. This can lead to negative outcomes for the couple.
There is growing evidence linking changes in lifestyle-related risk factors to improved physical and mental health outcomes.
Studies have shown that MS patients who attended intensive workshops teaching evidence-based lifestyle interventions had improved HRQOL, reduced relapse rates, and stabilized disability as determined by the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale Physical Component (MSIS‐20).
However, the impact of such lifestyle interventions on the partners of MS patients, and their relationship, has not been evaluated. This prompted researchers to interview partners of a group of MS patients who attended intensive lifestyle modification workshops.
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