How often have people with MS been told that they should not be given 'false hope' by their treating clinicians? Sadly, this seems a common occurrence. Perhaps this is to some extent explained by the fact that doctors treating PwMS have had little research about hope on which to base their views.
This important study from psychologists in Queensland, Australia, recruited 296 members of the MS Society of Queensland. The participants completed questionnaires at baseline and again 12 months later. The researchers were interested in how much hope they had, and whether there was a difference in response to stress, and in anxiety, depression and state of mind, between those with high hope and those with low hope. They used established scales to measure these variables.
For those clinicians who don't like to give people false hope, the results may come as something of a surprise! PwMS with high hope had more positive state of mind, greater life satisfaction and less depression; interestingly hope buffered the effects of high stress, so that under high stress, there was an even greater difference in favour of those with high hope, and they were considerably less anxious. The researchers concluded that hope is a potent protective resource for PwMS. Importantly, in terms of clinical practice for clinicians managing PwMS, the authors suggest that there are benefits in promoting hope in PwMS. If a clinician tells you that the OMS approach is offering false hope, download the paper here and show it to them! It is perfectly reasonable to hope that OMS will make a difference to your outcome. Hope is important; the science is clear.