Sexual dysfunction, depression and anxiety are common symptoms for people living with MS, and are more prevalent in MS relative to both the general population and other chronic disease populations. Recent findings emphasise the complex and multifactorial nature of sexual dysfunction in MS and suggest that the attribution of sexual dysfunction to disease factors (e.g., disability, location or number of demyelinating lesions) may be overestimated. Sexual dysfunction, depression and anxiety are clinically significant as they have a range of complications. Sexual dysfunction can affect fertility and decrease general and sexual quality of life. Depression and anxiety have been shown to predict self-harm and suicidal ideation in MS, along with a host of negative prognostic factors such as increased hospitalisation, relapses, pain, fatigue and low adherence to disease-modifying treatments.
Despite evidence of sexual dysfunction, depression and anxiety significantly impacting people with MS, the psychological factors contributing to the development and continuation of these symptoms are unknown. This research study aims to identify modifiable psychological factors that contribute to sexual dysfunction, depression and anxiety in MS.
Following a systematic review of the literature, this study will develop the first models of sexual dysfunction, depression and anxiety in MS. A ‘Model of Sexual Dysfunction’ and a ‘Transdiagnostic Model of Depression and Anxiety’ will be tested longitudinally and examined primarily in an MS sample, but will also be compared across other disease populations (i.e. endometriosis, cancer) to isolate important factors in MS. Findings from this research will address significant gaps in our understanding and inform directions for research and clinical practice. This will highlight important targets for psychological interventions that reduce the effects of sexual dysfunction, depression and anxiety in MS.
Updated: 14 February, 2022
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.