Health outcomes in multiple sclerosis: The role of beliefs and personality in cognitive function, depression, fatigue, and quality of life
Wahlig, Elizabeth Louise
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This study investigated the role of spiritual beliefs, health locus of control beliefs, and personality in the outcome measures of cognitive function, depression, fatigue, and quality of life in a Multiple Sclerosis population ( N = 35). A baseline assessment was conducted on the clinical outcome measures at Time 1, with a follow-up of repeated measures approximately 3.5 years later, at Time 2. Spiritual beliefs, health locus of control, and personality accounted for variance in the outcome measures at Time 2. Higher scores on tests of visual memory and learning, attention and concentration, and overall reported quality of life were negatively associated with believing that powerful others were in control of your health and positively with possessing an internal locus of control. Believing that your health was a matter of chance or fate resulted in poorer outcomes in these domains as well. Analyses of items and subscales measuring spiritual beliefs found variance in many examined domains (e.g., .2% of the variance in verbal memory and learning at Time 2 (lower score) was accounted for by the item "I have trouble finding peace of mind," and 6% with "My life lacks meaning and purpose." Overall quality of life was higher at Time 2 with 18% of variance accounted for by the item "I feel peaceful." Fatigue, which declined at Time 2, was inversely associated with "I feel peaceful" (12%). In addition, "I feel peaceful" accounted for 18% of the variance in the lower scores at Time 2 for physical health quality of life. Neuroticism was found to account for 22% of variance in depression at Time 2 and inversely accounted for 37% of improved mental health quality of life at Time 2. These findings point to the role of psychological factors in health outcomes. However, the relationships appear complex and the results of this study point to the need for further research.