Previous studies have shown that the occurrence of depression in people with MS is up to 2-3 times higher than the general population. It is also known that depression in this group may be more challenging to treat effectively. Additionally, recent research has shown that depression in people living with MS may go undetected and be under-treated in the community.
In this study, Dr Lisa Grech hopes to build on her previous work funded by MS Research Australia, to better understand the current screening, monitoring and treatment of depression in people with MS and to more fully understand the characteristics of depressive symptoms in this population. Additionally, Dr Grech will assess whether a brief screening tool which may easily be incorporated into clinical visits, may assist health care professionals to better detect depression in people with MS. It is anticipated that outcomes from the study will then support clinicians to improve both the detection and management of depression in this population. This will ultimately lead to improved quality of life for people with MS.
Dr Grech has carried out interviews with 15 MS specialist clinicians (including both neurologists and MS nurses) and 26 people with MS. These interviews were designed to determine current practices and barriers in the assessment, treatment and follow-up of depression in MS clinics.
The interview data has been analysed and the findings written up into two scientific manuscripts which are being submitted for publication. Some of the findings include, identifying difficulties with collaborative treatment and monitoring support from GPs, and that people with MS themselves don’t often identify emotional difficulties as needing treatment or recognise that they can be treated. This can be a barrier in itself to providing support. Barriers and challenges were identified from both the perspective of healthcare professionals as well as from people with MS.
Future work includes confirming these findings with a broader survey and assembling an expert advisory committee to guide the development and implementation of recommendations from both the literature and this research to improve the outcomes for people with MS experiencing depression.
We look forward to report further updates as this work hopefully makes its way into the scientific literature and clinical practice.
Updated: 16 May 2021
Updated: 19 January, 2021
Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.
Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.
Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.