MS Research Australia recently collaborated with the MS ACT/NSW/VIC in the first of a series of MS Researcher Update webinars.
This webinar was presented by Associate Professor Kenneth Pakenham, from the University of Queensland. He presented on his recent work exploring the link between hope, adjustment and coping in people with MS, and their carers and families. He has also been developing two new interventions that aim to improve the day to day lives of people living with MS, using the practices of acceptance and mindfulness in order to enhance resilience and coping in people with MS.
The first intervention is based on a specialised type of cognitive behavioural therapy known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Associate Professor Pakenham has studied this therapy in a small group of 18 people with MS, to investigate whether the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can help to develop coping strategies, flexibility, or social networks. Preliminary results have shown that this intervention may offer benefits for reducing stress and other negative emotions that may be experienced by people with MS.
The second intervention is based on the practice of mindfulness, and how this can be applied to traditional cognitive behavioural therapies. In another small study of 23 people with MS, Associate Professor Pakenham has identified that over a five-week period the participants showed small but significant reductions in negative emotions and also had high levels of engagement in the therapy.
These are pilot studies aiming to establish the feasibility of this new type of therapy. Further work will help to clarify the exact ways in which these therapies may be of benefit, including larger trials with a control comparison group, before they can be made more widely available to the community. Associate Professor Pakenham’s early results suggest promising potential for this innovative style of psychological intervention.
The Researcher Update webinars are a joint initiative from both MS-ACT/NSW/VIC and MS Research Australia, aiming to give the MS community the opportunity to hear about the latest social and applied research outcomes directly from those individuals driving the breakthroughs.
The webinar recording can be viewed here
To be notified of future webinars, please make sure you have subscribed to the MS Research Australia monthly e-newsletter MS WIRE.