Does it really help to go to an OMS retreat? Is the book or the website really of any value to the health of PwMS? We were interested in these questions, so we researched them in the latest HOLISM paper.

Previously we had published in the journal Neurological Sciences a paper looking at the 1 and 5 year follow up of people coming to our retreats. We showed that those coming to the retreats had highly significant (p<0.001) improvements at one year in mental health of about 12%, physical health 19%, and overall quality of life 11%.

At five years the benefit continued to accrue, with highly significant (p<0.001) improvements in mental health of about 23%, physical health 18%, and quality of life 20%. Critics have said, well yes, but you don't have anyone to compare these results to.

The Holism Study 

The HOLISM study provided us with that opportunity, because in our sample of around 2,500 PwMS, 247 had come to a retreat, so we could compare them to those who had not, in terms of their quality of life, and also their likelihood of fatigue and depression.

We also asked people completing our survey about whether they had read the OMS book, and whether they visited this website regularly.


We were trying to see if engagement with these self-help resources actually made a difference to people's health. And what remarkable results we found! Firstly we confirmed that people who had come to the retreats did indeed have a better quality of life.

Physical and mental health

Those who had come to the retreats had physical health quality of life scores 18% higher than those who hadn't, and mental health quality of life scores 14% higher.

This is almost exactly the same level of difference we found in our earlier follow up study, confirming the enormous benefit of these retreats.

We went further though, examining whether the combination of coming to a retreat, reading the book, and visiting the website regularly had any benefit compared to not doing any of those things.

We found that those who did all three had 19.5 and 15.6 points better physical and mental health quality of life (on a scale of 0 to 100), respectively, than the rest of our sample who had not used the resources.

So, for physical health, which had a mean quality of life score of 59.4 overall, that was around a one-third improvement for people who had been to a retreat, read the book and visited the website regularly compared with those who hadn't; for mental health, with a mean score of 67.2 overall, that represented around a one-quarter improvement for those doing all three.


Astonishingly, we found that those using the three resources had one-tenth the risk of depression and one-third the likelihood of being significantly fatigued!


It is extraordinary to think that such simple resources could be associated with such a dramatic fall in the incidence of depression, better than any anti-depressant ever marketed. For those who ask is it worth going to a retreat or reading the book, this paper answers the question emphatically.

Yes it is, especially if fatigue or depression are of concern, and if you want your quality of life to be markedly better across the board. This latest HOLISM paper strongly supports the value of the OMS Recovery Program in the lives of PwMS.


► Hadgkiss EJ, Jelinek GA, Taylor KL, Marck CH, van der Meer DM, Pereira NG, Weiland TJ. Engagement in a program promoting lifestyle modification is associated with better patient-reported outcomes for people with MS. Neurol Sci 2015; in press View pdf