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MS research update - Better social support leads to increased quality of life - 16 February 2012

Living with MS can be challenging and feeling supported by those around you can be important.

This study looked at how social support made a difference. Social support was defined as relationships with other people which allowed material, affective, emotional and informative support and also positive social interaction. It could be given formally or informally to help someone cope with their problems.

Material support meant access to material resources, such as cash assistance, food and clothing. Emotional support was when someone stated feelings of love and affection. Affective support was showing empathy, a caring attitude, trust and respect as well as listening to someone. Information support was access to advice and suggestions. Positive social interaction meant that there was available - or someone expected to have - people to help them relax and have fun.

150 people with MS in Portugal were interviewed to measure their quality of life and social support network. The average age of the group was 42 with almost three quarters being women. Two thirds were married and just over one tenth were widowed. There were only slightly more unskilled workers than skilled workers.

85% had relapsing remitting MS, 11% had secondary progressive MS and 4% had primary progressive MS. On average, they had had MS for nine years.

Material support was more usually provided, for example, someone to take them to the doctor, someone to do daily tasks if they were unable to or someone to help them if they had to stay in bed.

The least available forms of support were psychological ones such as someone to relax with, to share intimate concerns and fears with and someone who understood the person's problems. However, the most frequently available support was someone to show love and affection.

The researchers found that good social support was linked to a good quality of life. They highlighted that good psychological support had more effect than good material support as it had an effect on more aspects of life.

Costa DC, Sá MJ, Calheiros JM.
The effect of social support on the quality of life of patients with multiple sclerosis.
Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2012 Feb;70(2):108-13.


Is the risk of other chronic disease higher?

Two studies published this week looked at this question in two different groups of people and came to different conclusions.

The first, looked at levels of diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and high blood fats (hyperlipidaemia) in 430 people with MS in Canada. They found that the levels of all three conditions were the same in people with MS as they were in the general population.

The second study compared 1,142 American veterans with MS with 31,500 veterans without MS and 68,357 members of the general population. In this study, the veterans were all men who had served in the U.S. armed forces. On average the group with MS had been diagnosed with the condition for 23 years.

Looking at the whole age range, the research found that there were more veterans with MS who had high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes or stroke than in the group of veterans without MS.

However, in those with MS aged over 50 , there was the same prevalence of high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes as in the veterans without MS.

In contrast, in the over 50's with MS, the prevalence of stroke was higher than in the other groups. However, the prevalence of coronary heart disease was lower than in the veterans without MS.

The researchers concluded that it is important that these conditions are addressed in people with MS.

Marrie RA, Yu BN, Leung S, et al.
Rising prevalence of vascular comorbidities in multiple sclerosis: validation of administrative definitions for diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.
Mult Scler. 2012 Feb 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Lavela SL, Prohaska TR, Furner S, et al.
Chronic diseases in male veterans with multiple sclerosis.
Prev Chronic Dis. 2012 Feb;9:E55.


Research by topic areas...

Symptoms and symptom management

Saverino A, Solaro C.
Pain in individuals with multiple sclerosis, knee prosthesis, and post-herpetic neuralgia: learning from focus group patients' experience.
Clin J Pain. 2012 Feb 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Fielding J, Kilpatrick T, Millist L, et al.
Longitudinal assessment of antisaccades in patients with multiple sclerosis.
PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30475.

Doty RL, Tourbier I, Davis S, et al.
Pure-tone auditory thresholds are not chronically elevated in multiple sclerosis.
Behav Neurosci. 2012 Feb 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Disease modifying treatments

Havla JB, Pellkofer HL, Meinl I, et al.
Rebound of disease activity after withdrawal of fingolimod (FTY720) treatment.
Arch Neurol. 2012 Feb;69(2):262-4.

Kallweit U, Jelcic I, Braun N, et al.
Sustained efficacy of natalizumab in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis independent of disease activity and disability at baseline: real-life data from a swiss cohort.
Clin Neuropharmacol. 2012 Feb 7. [Epub ahead of print]

Sørensen PS, Bertolotto A, Edan G, et al.
Risk stratification for progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in patients treated with natalizumab.
Mult Scler. 2012 Feb;18(2):143-52.

Other treatments

Ziemssen T, Piatkowski J, Haase R.
Long-term effects of bio-electromagnetic-energy regulation therapy on fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Altern Ther Health Med. 2011 Nov-Dec;17(6):22-8.

Guillotreau J, Castel-Lacanal E, Roumiguié M, et al.
Prospective study of the impact on quality of life of cystectomy with ileal conduit urinary diversion for neurogenic bladder dysfunction.
Neurourol Urodyn. 2011 Nov;30(8):1503-6.


Saka M, Saka M, Koseler E, et al.
Nutritional status and anthropometric measurements of patients with multiple sclerosis.
Saudi Med J. 2012 Feb;33(2):160-6.

Assessment tools

Learmonth YC, Paul L, McFadyen AK, et al.
Reliability and clinical significance of mobility and balance assessments in multiple sclerosis.
Int J Rehabil Res. 2012 Mar;35(1):69-74.

Causes of MS

Hedström AK, Olsson T, Alfredsson L.
High body mass index before age 20 is associated with increased risk for multiple sclerosis in both men and women.
Mult Scler. 2012 Feb 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Psychological aspects

Rodrigues DN, Paes RA, Vasconcelos CC, et al.
Different cognitive profiles of Brazilian patients with relapsing-remitting and primary progressive multiple sclerosis.
Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2011 Aug;69(4):590-5.

Physical activity

Dlugonski D, Motl RW, Mohr DC, et al.
Internet-delivered behavioral intervention to increase physical activity in persons with multiple sclerosis: sustainability and secondary outcomes.
Psychol Health Med. 2012 Feb 7. [Epub ahead of print]


Chatziralli IP, Moschos MM, Brouzas D, et al.
Evaluation of retinal nerve fibre layer thickness and visual evoked potentials in optic neuritis associated with multiple sclerosis.
Clin Exp Optom. 2012 Feb 13. doi: 10.1111/j.1444-0938.2012.00706.x. [Epub ahead of print]

Antel J, Antel S, Caramanos Z, et al.
Primary progressive multiple sclerosis: part of the MS disease spectrum or separate disease entity?
Acta Neuropathol. 2012 Feb 11. [Epub ahead of print]

Fjeldstad C, Bemben M, Pardo G.
Reduced retinal nerve fiber layer and macular thickness in patients with multiple sclerosis with no history of optic neuritis identified by the use of spectral domain high-definition optical coherence tomography.
J Clin Neurosci. 2011 Nov;18(11):1469-72.


Beelen R, Maene L, Castenmiller P, et al.
Evolution in quality of life and epidemiological impact after endovascular treatment of chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Phlebology. 2012;27 Suppl 1:187-9.

Lugli M, Morelli M, Guerzoni S, et al.
The hypothesis of patho-physiological correlation between chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency and multiple sclerosis: rationale of treatment.
Phlebology. 2012;27 Suppl 1:178-86.

Van den Berg PJ, Visser LH.
Extra- and transcranial echo colour Doppler in the diagnosis of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency.
Phlebology. 2012;27 Suppl 1:107-13.

Diaconu CI, Conway D, Fox RJ, et al.
Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency as a cause of multiple sclerosis: controversy and reality.
Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2012 Feb 5. [Epub ahead of print]


Nicholas R, Rashid W.
Multiple sclerosis.
Clin Evid (Online). 2012 Feb 10;2012. pii: 1202.

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