Evaluating a psychological intervention for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an incurable, chronic, unpredictable and potentially progressive disease. Symptoms often start in early or mid-adulthood.  Adjusting to living with MS is challenging and lots of people with MS develop depression and anxiety.

My Work

I worked as part of a MS Society funded research team on a 4 year programme of work. We developed and evaluated a nurse-led psychological intervention, delivered by telephone.

My role included

  • Leading a study where 30 people with MS were interviewed about how they adjust and cope. I collaborated on a parallel study on partner/spouses experiences. The findings were then used to tailor the intervention to the unique needs and experiences of people with MS.
  • Working with clinical and health psychologists to devise an 8-session programme of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, including the development of patient and therapist manuals.
  • Setting up then co-ordinating a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the intervention.
  • Supplementing the main trial findings by conducting statistical analyses exploring how CBT works and under what circumstances it works best.
  • Interviewing 30 people who had taken part in the trial to explore their perspectives on changes occurring during therapy, and any factors that facilitated and hindered their engagement in therapy. I analysed the data and pulled out common themes.

We developed a novel intervention, tailored for people in the early stages of MS and showed that it was possible to train up nurses to deliver this therapy by telephone. The trial showed that the intervention reduced distress, particularly in people who began with low social support and higher levels of distress. The interviews provided insights into a wide variety of benefits and changes that people who participated noticed and shed light on how it worked and how it could be improved to make it more acceptable and effective.

The research (the ‘saMS trial’) won the MS Society ‘Research of the Year’ award (2013) and the therapy manuals are now available via the MS Society.


UK MS Society

Key Collaborators

Prof Rona Moss-Morris1
Prof Trudie Chalder1
Prof Lucy Yardley5
Dr Sarah Kirby5
Prof Eli Silber1,2
Prof Ian Galea4,5
Dr Angeliki Bogosian3

  1. King’s College London
  2. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  3. City University
  4. University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
  5. University of Southampton

Related reports

Change and processes of change within interventions to promote adjustment to multiple sclerosis: Learning from patient experiences

A randomized controlled trial of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for adjusting to multiple sclerosis (the saMS trial): Does CBT work and for whom does it work?

Protocol for the saMS trial (supportive adjustment for multiple sclerosis): a randomized controlled trial comparing cognitive behavioral therapy to supportive listening for adjustment to multiple sclerosis

Experiences of adjusting to early stage Multiple Sclerosis

Experiences of partners of people in the early stages of multiple sclerosis

Posted in Project.