Online Toolkit to Assist with Self-Management of MS Symptoms
Posted February 25, 2020
Anna Kratz, Ph.D., University of Michigan
Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) frequently suffer from multiple co-occurring symptoms that are associated with poor health, diminished quality of life, and reduced functioning. There are three symptoms – pain, fatigue, and depressed mood – that are especially common and frequently co-occur in MS. Currently, providers following the standard of care guidelines may offer individually tailored multidisciplinary outpatient rehabilitation for MS symptoms, including medical management, therapies, and/or behavioral health (e.g., self-management) interventions. Research shows that self-management interventions are effective at treating the impact of symptoms in those with MS. However, the vast majority of patients with MS are unable to access such MS specialty care and rehabilitation to help with symptom management. Fortunately, web-based self-management interventions (WEB-SM) have the potential to improve the reach of behavioral health interventions into more of the population via remote delivery and scalability to essentially “meet patients where they are.”
With a Fiscal Year 2016 Exploration – Hypothesis Development Award, Dr. Kratz and her team of collaborators from the University of Michigan and the University of Washington developed and tested a WEB-SM program to manage fatigue, pain, and depressed mood in persons with MS. The goals of this program, called My MS Toolkit (www.mymstoolkit.com/), are to provide evidence-based education, guidance, and skills-building exercises that are specifically tailored for people with MS. The program also contains content for family and friends. Through all stages of development, the investigators worked with a stakeholder panel of individuals with MS (n=4) who provided ongoing feedback on the content and format of the website to ensure the usability/accessibility and relevance of My MS Toolkit to those with MS. They then performed pilot testing of My MS Toolkit in a group of 20 people with MS who reported clinically significant pain, fatigue, and/or depressive symptoms. Pilot study participants completed pre-treatment outcome measures, followed by 12 weeks of intervention (self-guided use of My MS Toolkit), and then a battery of post-treatment outcome measures. Through this pilot work, the researchers are evaluating the impact of My MS Toolkit, on the user’s self-efficacy to manage symptoms, global perceptions of change, and treatment response in terms of symptom reduction pre- to post-intervention. The study is currently in the final phase of data analysis, and outcomes related to initial effects of the treatment are expected to be published this year. My MS Toolkit is currently freely available to the public.
Dr. Kratz’s work will provide a supportive tool for clinical care teams and individuals as a complement to their medical support team.
Last updated Tuesday, February 25, 2020