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Learning to live with multiple sclerosis cognitive impairment and how it influences readiness for group cognitive intervention

Cara L. Brown, Melissa Colbeck, Danielle Fogarty, Sara Funk

Disability and Health Journal, Available online 18 May 2016



Up to 65% of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have cognitive impairment that negatively affects quality of life, social functioning, and work. Evidence is building to suggest cognitive rehabilitation is a helpful intervention strategy, and that a group approach can be effective for individuals with MS. Further exploration of how to maximize the potential of group cognitive interventions is warranted.


To describe how the psychological process of learning to live with MS-related cognitive changes influences participation in a group cognitive intervention.


A qualitative design with interpretive description approach was used to ask consumers with MS the important features of a group cognitive intervention. Ten females with self-reported physician-diagnosed MS participated in two focus groups. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed. Inductive analysis resulted in content and process categories and themes.


The focus groups echoed the processes and relationships that occur in a group intervention program. The main three themes represented stages in a process of learning to live with cognitive changes. The three themes were: 1) coming to know yourself with cognitive changes, 2) learning to cope with cognitive changes and 3) living a changed life. Relationships exist between these stages and the extent to which an individual will benefit from a group cognitive intervention program.


Knowledge of group process and the psychological processes involved in behavioral change are essential skills for facilitating a cognitive intervention group for people with MS.

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About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia University,...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in New...

This online Resource Centre has been made possible by a donation from EMD Serono, Inc., a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Note that EMD Serono, Inc., has no editorial control or influence over the content of this Resource Centre. The Resource Centre and all content therein are subject to an independent editorial review.

The Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation
supports promising translational research projects by academic researchers to improve understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS) for the ultimate benefit of patients.  For full information and application details, please click here

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