Loneliness in Multiple Sclerosis: Possible Antecedents and Correlates

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Abstract

Purpose:

The prevalence and possible antecedents and correlates of loneliness in multiple sclerosis (MS) was examined.

Design:

Cross-sectional, comparative study of MS (n = 63) and healthy adults (n = 21).

Methods:

Data were collected using self-reports of loneliness and antecedents and correlates and analyzed using inferential statistics.

Findings:

Those with MS had significantly higher loneliness scores than healthy adults (p < .05), and this was explained by employment status. Possible antecedents included marital status (p < .05), upper extremity function (r= −.28, p < .03), social disability frequency (r= −.49, p < .00), social disability limitations (r= −.38, p < .00), and personal disability limitations (r= −.29, p < .03). Social disability frequency (beta = −.41, p < .001) and marital status (beta = −.23, p < .046) accounted for 25% of the variance in loneliness scores. Possible correlates included depression (r= .49, p < .00), cognitive fatigue (r= .34, p < .01), psychosocial fatigue (r= .30, p < .02), and psychological quality of life (r= .44, p < .00).

Conclusions:

We provide evidence of loneliness in persons with MS, and this is associated with possible antecedents (e.g., marital status and disability limitations) and correlates (e.g., depression and fatigue).

Clinical Relevance:

Loneliness should be recognized clinically as an important concomitant of MS.

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