Need for Improved Access to and Interventions for Mental Health in Multiple Sclerosis: Louise Palmer, MA


The health research assistant at the Shepherd Center discussed the importance of interventions that address mental health for patients with multiple sclerosis, including counseling and support groups. [WATCH TIME: 2 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 2 minutes

“On top of that, we have health insurance access barriers, because many insurance plans will only pay for a certain number [of sessions]. For physicians and other health care professionals, they need to be cognizant of assessing all of the needs of people with MS holistically and having some resources on hand for making those referrals to counselors, for example.”

A recently conducted analysis led by Louise Palmer, MA, aimed to identify variables of psychosocial life areas that predict satisfaction with functioning for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).1 A total of 1332 patients with MS completed a survey and were thus analyzed on several clinical, social, and demographic variables. Stepwise regressions were used to determine the best model fit and included variables based on conceptual groupings.

Ultimately, model 4 comprised of all the previous 3 models, which included age-related variables, MS and health variables, and social and demographic variables. In this model, lower satisfaction scores were predicted by several factors, including: diagnosis with MS at age 40 years or older, more severe MS symptoms, lower cognitive function, wheelchair use, poorer physical health status, poorer mental health status, single marital status, and male sex. Of all the variables, mental health status was the strongest predictor of satisfaction.

Palmer, a research scientist at the Shepherd Center, and her colleagues, concluded that the findings support interventions that address mental health, and that future studies should assess the impact of evidence-based interventions. In an interview with NeurologyLive® during the Consortium of MS Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting, June 4-8, 2022, in National Harbor, Maryland, Palmer stressed that there are interventions out there, but that access to them is a challenge. Additionally, she stressed that there are counselors who work in mental health but may not have experience working specifically with patients with MS, which can lead to an “additional barrier."

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1. Palmer LC, Sweatman M, Krause J, Jarnecke M, Backus D. Predicting satisfaction with functioning in psychosocial life areas for people with multiple sclerosis. Presented at: CMSC Annual Meeting 2022; June 1-3; National Harbor, MD. DXM10
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