There is growing consensus among experts in MS research and management that the development of MS, and more particularly, its course towards disability and poor quality of life, are strongly influenced by a range of environmental factors, many of them lifestyle factors within the control of your patients.
The literature is broad-based and congruent, with little contradictory data published. While some may argue that, as there are few randomized controlled trials of lifestyle interventions in MS, there is little evidence on which to base such a program, evidence-based medicine (EBM) suggests otherwise. As Dr. David Sackett, the architect of EBM, stated: “Evidence based medicine is not restricted to randomized trials and meta-analyses. It involves tracking down the best external evidence with which to answer our clinical questions.”
So, you may feel that it is more responsible to await further clinical trials, representing the highest level of evidence, before adopting this approach. But the difficulties of conducting such trials have been acknowledged (33), particularly in the case of lifestyle interventions, and your patients are asking for our help right now.
Clinicians and people with MS can be confident that the best available evidence to date strongly supports modification of these lifestyle risk factors as advocated by the Overcoming MS Program, in addition to standard care. This is true for both primary prevention (preventing MS in close relatives of people with MS) and secondary prevention (modifying or stabilizing the course of the disease for those with MS).
Importantly, there are no risks associated with this approach, only better health, both generally and specifically relating to MS.
How do I integrate Overcoming MS into my practice?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the details depend on the type of practice you have and your role as a healthcare practitioner. But here are some general guidelines that can help you get started:
- Raise awareness about the efficacy of lifestyle-based interventions for MS. In addition to discussing the various drug therapies that may benefit your patients, you may wish to make them aware of how they can improve their chances of longer-term health and better quality of life by making straightforward changes to diet and lifestyle based on what the latest research and evidence suggests.
- Help your patients and clients get better informed. Overcoming MS offers a host of free information and resources that provide clear insight into the science, evidence, and effectiveness of the Overcoming MS Recovery Program. You can download and share these resources here. Overcoming MS also offers a community of like-minded individuals with MS who can support each other through the difficulties of the diagnosis and its aftermath.
- Stay on top of the research so you’re better informed. We understand your time is extremely limited, so allow us to do some of the heavy lifting by informing you when new research papers are published or clinical studies initiated that may have a direct bearing on lifestyle interventions in general, and the Overcoming MS Program in particular. Join Overcoming MS’ Professional Development Program and stay in the loop at no cost and with minimal effort or time required on your part. Learn more here.