Patients with MS who participated in a weekly, structured wellness program demonstrated ongoing, significant improvements in disease markers and physical activity at 4 years compared with baseline, according to study results presented by Tiffany Malone, MSW, MSCS at the 2022 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) meeting.

The Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Center

“The Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Center (MSAC) conducts day wellness programs to address physical, cognitive, and social well-being,” wrote Malone and colleagues. “Program activities include exercise, cognitive stimulation, education, emotional wellness, socialization, and community outings. As previously reported, improvements were seen in [QOL] measures with analysis of baseline to 2- and 3-year measures.”

Malone presented 4-year results, derived from patient-reported outcomes, of the MSAC, noting that these measures were recorded in the timeframe of the COVID-19 pandemic and that certain programs transitioned to a virtual format because of the pandemic.

Baseline data were available for 110 people with MS in 2017, 52 of whom reported these outcome measures annually through 2021. The researchers conducted a separate analysis with a comparison of outcomes from January 2020 and January 2021.

COVID-19 Impacts Self-Efficacy & Social Domains

The analysis of baseline data compared with 4-year data showed statistically significant changes in scores on the 29-item MS Impact Scale (P=0.01) and the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (P=0.0002). Malone and colleagues also reported significant declines in the 10-item MS Self-efficacy Scale at year 4 compared with baseline (P=0.02) and year 3 (P=0.001).

While there were statistically significant changes observed at years 2 and 3 in the Ability to Participate and Social Roles, these changes did not remain significant at year 4, according to the researchers.

The reduction in self-efficacy and social domains observed in the study “coincide with disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to greater isolation and included the transition to virtual activities in many aspects of the participants’ lives,” Malone and team wrote, adding that further research “is needed to understand the ongoing effects of the pandemic on program participants.”