UK researchers have developed a programme to help patients with multiple sclerosis cope with the debilitating fatigue that commonly accompanies the condition.
Researchers from Bournemouth University say their initiative has shown encouraging results and is now being taken up across the country and beyond.
The team, from the university’s clinical research unit, and Poole Hospital developed a group-based fatigue management programme called FACETS – Fatigue: Applying Cognitive behavioural and Energy effectiveness Techniques to lifeStyle.
The programme combines providing patients with tools and strategies to manage their energy levels more effectively and supporting them to explore different, more helpful ways of thinking about fatigue.
It is delivered via a series of weekly group sessions, which are facilitated by two health professionals with experience of cognitive behavioural approaches and of working with people with MS.
The sessions are highly structured and incorporate a combination of learning techniques, including presentations, group discussions, flipchart exercises and tasks to do at home.
The programme has subsequently been evaluated in a trial funded by the MS Society and published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
Participants were randomised to either attend the FACETS programme in addition to usual care, or to continue with usual care alone.
The results showed that the FACETS group demonstrated improvements in fatigue severity and self-efficacy at a four-month follow-up.
A year on from the beginning of the trial, improvements were still sustained and additional improvements in quality of life were even emerging, said the researchers.
As a result, the MS Society has developed the research into one-day training courses for health professionals, so they can apply the idea in their local areas.
The programme has also inspired a number of other research projects across Europe – in France, Germany and Norway.