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Cognitive behavioural therapy in multiple sclerosis: A randomized controlled pilot study of acceptance and commitment therapy

Linda Nordin, Ia Rorsman
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0898


Objective: The aim of this study was to design a trial that could evaluate the effect of acceptance and commitment therapy as a group-intervention for multiple sclerosis patients with psychological distress.
Design: Randomized controlled trial with assessment at pretreatment, end of treatment, and at 3-month follow-up.
Subjects: Multiple sclerosis outpatients with elevated symptoms of anxiety and/or depression (n = 21).
Methods: Patients were randomly assigned to acceptance and commitment therapy or relaxation training. Both treatments consisted of 5 sessions over 15 weeks containing didactic sessions, group discussions, and exercises. Outcome was assessed by self-rated symptoms of anxiety, depression, and a measure of acceptance.
Results: At 3-month follow-up, the relaxation training group had a significant decline in anxiety symptoms whereas the acceptance and commitment therapy group showed a maintained improvement in rated acceptance at follow-up.
Conclusion: The results reflect the different emphases of the therapies. Acceptance and commitment therapy is aimed at living an active, valued life and increasing acceptance, while relaxation training focuses directly on coping strategies to handle emotional symptoms. The results are preliminary, but supportive of further study of brief group interventions for reducing psychological distress in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Lay Abstract


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