Boosting resilience to be ready for MS

20 Dec 2017
Habs ready for MS
Professor Kenneth Pakenham

A resilience training program to improve the quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been developed by University of Queensland researchers.

UQ School of Psychology’s Professor Kenneth Pakenham said the READY for MS Program showed improvements across a wide range of mental health factors for people with MS.

“People with MS experience lower quality of life and have higher rates of depression and anxiety than the general population,” Professor Pakenham said.

“Psychological distress can be worsened by the demands of adjusting to the disease and associated symptoms, while simultaneously having the potential to exacerbate some MS symptoms.”

The READY for MS Program offers seven weekly group sessions of 2.5 hours each, with a booster session five weeks later.

“People in our program reported increases in resilience, physical and mental health quality of life and lower levels of depression and stress.

“Usually the quality of life of people with MS is most likely to stay stable or deteriorate, so the fact that we were able to get comprehensive improvement across a wide range of behaviours is promising.”

The READY for MS Program is a resilience training program based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

“ACT works to increase psychological flexibility and resiliency by using mindfulness techniques that focus on having an open and responsive awareness of the present moment,” Professor Pakenham said.

MS is a complex degenerative neurological disorder that affects more than 2 million people worldwide.

It is the most common cause of neurologic disability among young and middle-aged adults, and is twice as prevalent in women as in men.

The cause of MS is unknown and there is currently no cure.

MS Queensland now provides the READY for MS Program to its members, and may soon be offered by other MS societies around Australia.

The program is being taught to psychologists in the Italian MS sector, with the view to rolling the program into other European countries.

Professor Pakenham is seeking funding for the digital delivery of the READY for MS Program.

The review of the READY for MS Program, co-authored by Dr Matthew Mawdsley, Dr Felicity Brown and Dr Nicola Burton, is published in Rehabilitation Psychology.

Media: Professor Kenneth Pakenham,; Dani Nash, UQ Communications,, +61 7 3346 3035.