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The burden of multiple sclerosis and patients’ coping strategies


Objectives Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that mainly affects young people. Patients with MS experience several emotional responses to changed perceptions of themselves and manage this situation in ways focused on controlling the overall burden of disease. This present study aimed to evaluate differences between patients with MS and healthy controls (HCs) in coping styles, identifying the MS clinical features that influence adaptive responses.

Methods Patients with MS, according to the McDonald 2010 criteria, and HCs were recruited. Coping strategies were assessed using the Coping Orientation to the Problems Experienced (COPE-NVI; Italian version) questionnaire.

Results A cohort of 135 patients with MS (female: 89/135, 65.9%) and 94 HCs (female: 64/94, 68%) were enrolled. Impaired social support and problem solving was noted for MS group (p=0.005). In the MS group, the social support worsened with increasing disease duration (p=0.002) independently of the level of disability. Associations between a higher Expanded Disability Status Scale score and avoidance strategies (p<0.01), as well between avoidance strategies and a previous depression diagnosis (p<0.001) were reported.

Conclusion Our findings highlight the negative impact of MS on various aspects of patients’ life. Therefore, psychosocial interventions are needed to increase adaptive coping mechanisms aimed to manage the burden of MS.

  • multiple sclerosis
  • disease burden
  • coping strategies
  • psychosocial intervention
  • supportive care

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