Learning to live with multiple sclerosis cognitive impairment and how it influences readiness for group cognitive intervention


Cara L. Brown, M.Sc., Melissa Colbeck, M.O.T., Danielle Fogarty, M.O.T., Sara Funk, M.O.T.
Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Manitoba, R106 – 771 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3T 2N2

Disability and Health Journal, Volume 9, Issue 4
Published online: May 18, 2016


Up to 65% of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have cognitive impairment that negatively affects quality of life, social functioning, and work. Evidence is building to suggest cognitive rehabilitation is a helpful intervention strategy, and that a group approach can be effective for individuals with MS. Further exploration of how to maximize the potential of group cognitive interventions is warranted.


To describe how the psychological process of learning to live with MS-related cognitive changes influences participation in a group cognitive intervention.


A qualitative design with interpretive description approach was used to ask consumers with MS the important features of a group cognitive intervention. Ten females with self-reported physician-diagnosed MS participated in two focus groups. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed. Inductive analysis resulted in content and process categories and themes.


The focus groups echoed the processes and relationships that occur in a group intervention program. The main three themes represented stages in a process of learning to live with cognitive changes. The three themes were: 1) coming to know yourself with cognitive changes, 2) learning to cope with cognitive changes and 3) living a changed life. Relationships exist between these stages and the extent to which an individual will benefit from a group cognitive intervention program.


Knowledge of group process and the psychological processes involved in behavioral change are essential skills for facilitating a cognitive intervention group for people with MS.