Understanding barriers, enablers, and long-term adherence to a health behavior intervention in people with multiple sclerosis

BARNARD, Emma
BROWN, Chelsea R
WEILAND, Tracey J
JELINEK, George A
MARCK, Claudia H

Publication Date 

October 2018
12 pp

Background: The optimal management strategy for multiple sclerosis (MS), and many other chronic diseases, likely involves health behavior modification. Multimodal behavioral interventions may be most effective, but little is known about long-term adherence in people with MS.

 

Methods: This qualitative study assessed barriers and enablers to long-term adherence by people with MS who self-selected for a 5-day health behavior intervention 3–5 years prior. Thirteen women and five men participated in semi-structured phone interviews, which were transcribed and thematically analyzed.

 

Results: The experience was described as useful for information gathering, decision making, and practical strategies regarding health behaviors. The majority still followed supplementation and dietary recommendations most of the time, although consuming non-recommended food while eating out was common. Support at home, ability and enjoyment in food preparation, and ability to resist unhealthy foods were both barriers and enablers. Adherence to “time-consuming” exercise and meditation recommendations were less common and episodic. Many reported competing interests on time from work and family; and barriers including injuries and symptoms, weather, financial or geographical barriers, and lack of person-centred support and motivation. Increased fitness and mobility, weight loss, and a sense of accomplishment and control were advantages and motivators. Practical and attitudinal strategies employed included planning, tailoring activities to ability and preference, and self-monitoring.

 

Conclusion: While most people attempted to engage with all components of the intervention initially, only some still engaged with all components, and none to the recommended levels. These data can inform future quantitative studies and health behavior interventions.

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