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New website for people with Multiple Sclerosis

Published: 
11 December 2008

MS Invigor8, a website developed by researchers at the University of Southampton, to treat fatigue in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) will be completed on Friday (12 December) and is ready to be trialled.

The research team, led by Professor Rona Moss-Morris at the School of Psychology, with the technology side led by Dr Gary Wills at the School of Electronics and Computer Science, now seeks 40 people in the UK who experience MS fatigue to take part in the web-based trial which will begin on 12 January 2009.

The team adopted an approach which used eight sessions of manualised CBT to treat fatigue in MS effectively, and developed an Internet-based version of the package.

"We know this works because six months after the manual treatment, not only had fatigue substantially reduced, but people with MS reported levels of fatigue that were significantly lower than those of a matched healthy, non-fatigued group," said Professor Moss-Morris.

The researchers found that a limitation of the manual package is that skilled CBT therapists are not available to many people with MS due to the lack of available resources and difficulty of access. The new web-based package will enable effective treatment for more people with minimal therapist time.

The team worked with expert service users to develop eight sessions to assess users' levels of fatigue, their patterns of activity and rest, and then to enable them to manage issues such as sleep patterns and stress. The programme is interactive and personalised, allowing people to set goals for managing their fatigue and to work towards developing and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

Lawrence Gilbert, an expert service user who has been closely involved in the process from the outset, said: "MS can be like a Duracell battery, you could be going along fine and then suddenly the energy drains out of you. My concern has always been that the fatigue, which is a part of the condition, could be wrongly attributed to being just 'all in the mind'. The approach taken by the Southampton team is not like that at all."

The research programme is funded by the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

People interested in knowing more about the trials which begin next month should contact: Louise Bell on L.Bell@soton.ac.uk

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