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Experiences of receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis: a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies
Disability and Rehabilitation, Pages: 1 - 12
Swansea University Author: Deborah Fitzsimmons
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PurposeThis meta-synthesis aimed to synthesise qualitative evidence on experiences of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in receiving a diagnosis, to derive a conceptual understanding of adjustment to MS diagnosis.MethodsFive electronic databases were systematically searched to identify qualitative...
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PurposeThis meta-synthesis aimed to synthesise qualitative evidence on experiences of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in receiving a diagnosis, to derive a conceptual understanding of adjustment to MS diagnosis.MethodsFive electronic databases were systematically searched to identify qualitative studies that explored views and experiences around MS diagnosis. Papers were quality-appraised using a standardised checklist. Data synthesis was guided by principles of meta-ethnography, a well-established interpretive method for synthesising qualitative evidence.ResultsThirty-seven papers were selected (with 874 people with MS). Synthesis demonstrated that around the point of MS diagnosis people experienced considerable emotional upheaval (e.g., shock, denial, anger, fear) and difficulties (e.g., lengthy diagnosis process) that limited their ability to make sense of their diagnosis, leading to adjustment difficulties. However, support resources (e.g., support from clinicians) and adaptive coping strategies (e.g., acceptance) facilitated the adjustment process. Additionally, several unmet emotional and informational support needs (e.g., need for personalised information and tailored emotional support) were identified that, if addressed, could improve adjustment to diagnosis.ConclusionsOur synthesis highlights the need for providing person-centred support and advice at the time of diagnosis and presents a conceptual map of adjustment for designing interventions to improve adjustment following MS diagnosis.Implications for RehabilitationThe period surrounding Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis can be stressful and psychologically demanding.Challenges and disruptions at diagnosis can threaten sense of self, resulting in negative emotions.Adaptive coping skills and support resources could contribute to better adjustment following diagnosis.Support interventions should be tailored to the needs of newly diagnosed people.
Diagnosis; emotional adjustment; emotions; multiple sclerosis; psychological adaptation; qualitative research; systematic review
Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences