The purpose of this study was to consider multiple sclerosis (MS) patients' experiences of talking with healthcare professionals about emotions and their emotional well-being both at the time of diagnosis and while they are living with the illness. Relationships between talking about emotions and positive outcomes were examined. The 145 respondents completed a paper-and-pencil survey, an Internet survey, or a telephone interview. Forty-four percent of respondents indicated that a healthcare provider had discussed their emotional well-being at the time of their diagnosis. Fifty-six percent of respondents reported that their healthcare professional had talked with them about their fears, sadness, and anger related to living with their illness. For those respondents who wanted to talk with their healthcare professional, doing so appeared to be associated with several positive outcomes. The small number (N = 22) of respondents who did not want to talk with a healthcare professional about emotions were also doing well on several measures. Nurses can help MS patients deal with their uncertainty and emotional challenges by being willing to inquire about emotions and emotional well-being.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Carmel Parker White, PhD, firstname.lastname@example.org. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
Mark White, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
Candyce S. Russell, PhD, is Vera Mowery McAninch Professor in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.