Electronic MediaMultiple Sclerosis

Teleconferencing for fatigue managment in MS patients

Fatigue is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS) that challenges patients in their daily activities.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago compared teleconference to face-to-face, group-based fatigue self-management. The results were reported during the Joint Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers and America’s Committee on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis meeting.

First, the details.

  • 190 patients, average of 55 years old and 15 years with MS, were randomly assigned to treatment group.
    • The teleconference group: 70-minute sessions weekly for 6 weeks, delivered by an occupational therapist.
    • Control group that received no therapy
  • Training focused on the strategic use of rest; communication; activity analysis and modification; and setting priorities about energy use.
  • Patients received a telephone headset and a training manual, and called a toll-free number.
  • Teleconferences consisted of a discussion led by a therapist.
  • Patients received homework for the next session.
  • Outcome measures included the Fatigue Impact Scale and the Short Form Health Status Survey (SF-36).
  • Patients were evaluated before and after the study, and at 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months later.

And, the results.

  • Fatigue severity improved in both groups.
  • Treatment also improved physical health immediately after the study, and mental health by 6 weeks.
  • On average, the positive response to teleconferencing was maintained 3 and 6 months after completing the program.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “A group-based, teleconference-delivered fatigue-management program can reduce the impact of fatigue and improve some aspects of quality of life immediately post-intervention. On average, these effects can be maintained over a 6-month follow-up.”

Another advantage of teleconferencing is that it makes a healthcare professional available to patients who might otherwise not benefit from counseling.

6/30/10 11:40 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.