Professor Jelinek has facilitated retreats for people with MS at the Gawler Foundation in rural Victoria, Australia, since 2002.
From the beginning, his research team has collected data on these people using the MS QOL-54, a validated research tool for measuring quality of life of people with MS.
People with MS attending the retreats, ranging from 13 to 34 people at a time, 2-3 times a year, were asked to complete the MS QOL-54 just prior to commencing the retreat, and at 1, 2.5 and 5 years after the retreat.
The MS QOL-54 measures a comprehensive suite of features of quality of life, related to mental health, physical health, social interaction, emotional health, pain, sexual function, and others.
Recently, with enough patients having attended the retreats for a meaningful analysis, the team undertook the first analysis of data at the 1 and 2.5 year time points.
The results were impressive. At the 1 year mark after the retreat, people on average were 13% better mentally, and 15% better physically.
At the 2.5 year time point, there were on average 15% better mentally and 17% better physically. All these differences were statistically significant. Overall, quality of life improved significantly.
These results provide strong support for the lifestyle approach to the management of MS. People with MS attending these retreats can be confident that they have a real possibility of improving their situation using this lifestyle approach.