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Clin Psychol Rev. 2009 Mar;29(2):141-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2008.12.001. Epub 2008 Dec 16.

A review of psychological correlates of adjustment in patients with multiple sclerosis.

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Centre for Clinical Applications of Health Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease which poses significant psychological adjustment challenges. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify factors that are related to adjustment in people with MS and may be modifiable through psychological intervention. It aimed to gain an overview of the strength of evidence for relationships between psychological factors and adjustment and identify limitations to existing studies and directions for future research. Seventy two studies met inclusion criteria and were included in the review and a narrative synthesis was conducted. A wide range of psychological factors have been studied in relation to adjustment outcomes. The strongest and most consistent finding was that perceived stress and certain emotion-focussed coping strategies are related to worse adjustment in MS. Uncertainty was fairly robustly associated with worse adjustment. There was also more tentative evidence available for relationships between adjustment outcomes and a range of other factors including social support and interactions with others, cognitive errors and biases, illness and symptom cognitions, control perceptions, positive psychology factors, and health behaviours. Implications for therapeutic interventions are discussed and a preliminary model of adjustment to MS is outlined. In light of the shortcomings of extant studies, suggestions for future research are offered.

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