The purpose of this cross-sectional, descriptive study was to describe the relationships between learned helplessness and disease status, functional and social disability, and disease activity in the multiple sclerosis population. Additionally, the relationships between learned helplessness and age, disease duration, education and marital and employment status were evaluated. Self-report instruments with established validity and reliability in the multiple sclerosis population were used to collect the data.
Learned helplessness was significantly positively correlated with social and functional disability. Although not significant at the .05 level, disease status and disease activity were also positively correlated with learned helplessness. Additionally, unemployed individuals were more likely to be helpless than employed individuals.
Overall, the results suggest that learned helplessness is related to negative health indicators in the multiple sclerosis population. Nursing interventions to decrease or prevent learned helplessness may be appropriate in this population.