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Research paper
Randomised controlled trial of a self-guided online fatigue intervention in multiple sclerosis

Abstract

Objective Fatigue is a major disabling symptom in many chronic diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), but treatment options are limited.Here, we tested the effectiveness of a self-guided , interactive, online fatigue management programme (ELEVIDA) based on principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and related psychotherapeutic approaches (eg, mindfulness) for reducing fatigue in MS.

Methods Patients with MS and self-reported fatigue were recruited via the website of the German MS Society and assigned via an automated randomisation generator (1:1, no blocking or stratification) to a 12-week online intervention (ELEVIDA, n=139, 82% female, mean age 40.8, median patient determined disease steps (PDDS) 3.0) or a waitlist control group (n=136, 79% female, mean age 41.9, median PDDS 3.0). The primary outcome was the Chalder Fatigue Scale. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, at week 12 (postintervention) and at follow-up (week 24).

Results Compared with the control group, significantly greater reductions in Chalder Fatigue Scale scores were seen in the ELEVIDA group at week 12 (primary endpoint, intention-to-treat analysis: between-group mean difference 2.74 points; 95% CI 1.16 to 4.32; p=0.0007; effect size d=0.53), with effects sustained at week 24 (intention-to-treat analysis: between-group mean difference 2.19 points; 95% CI 0.57 to 3.82; p=0.0080).

Conclusions Our trial provides evidence for the effectiveness of a self-guided , internet-based intervention to reduce fatigue in MS. Interventions such as ELEVIDA may be a suitable low barrier, cost-effective treatment option for MS fatigue.

Trial registration number ISRCTN registry (number ISRCTN25692173).

  • multiple sclerosis
  • depression
  • immunology
  • neuroendocrinology
  • neuroimmunology
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