People with multiple sclerosis frequently report implementing dietary strategies as part of their personal wellness programs; however, little is known about the elements of healthy behavior change in people with MS.
Sara Shuger Fox, associate professor of kinesiology, worked with a team including Andrea Arthofer, M.D. and a 2017 Central graduate, to research and publish an article in the International Journal of MS Care. “Facilitators of and Barriers to Adherence to Dietary Interventions Perceived by Women With Multiple Sclerosis and Their Support Persons” identifies five themes for MS care as well as drivers and barriers to following diet recommendations.
The research identified five themes for following a diet: personal motivation, diet components, time, support and resource access.
Shuger Fox explains that major drivers of dietary adherence were positive support from support persons and study staff, access to resources, symptom improvement and personal motivation.
Major barriers included the novelty of the study diet, lack of cooking skills, no change in or worsening of symptoms, lack of diet knowledge and food preferences and temptations. Symptom severity was more frequently reported as a barrier to study diet adherence among participants with secondary progressive MS.
This research will support methods to enhance motivation and positive support systems for women with MS. It supports the goal to improve diet adherence and overall wellbeing.