ABSTRACT: This article used a mixed method approach to analyze qualitative and quantitative responses from individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) to determine differences when patients’ perceived stress levels and perceived quality of support are taken into account. Understanding the differences in these responses can help us understand how illness, specifically MS, may influence the relational messages sent by patients to their loved ones. Responses to both quantitative and qualitative questions were obtained from 145 persons who have been diagnosed with MS. Participants responded to scale questions measuring daily stress levels and levels of social support and were divided into four groups on the basis of their scores (low/low, high/low, high/high, and high/low). Thematic analysis was performed on the qualitative responses, and differences were analyzed based on participants’ grouping. Additional outcome variables measuring quality of life, anxiety, depression, helplessness, and acceptance were also analyzed to determine the similarities and differences between the groupings. The information presented in this article both informs and supports the idea that patients’ levels of stress and perception of support are two major variables that impact their responses to their loved ones and their scores on several outcome variables.
Mark B. White, PhD, is an associate professor at the Department of Child Development and Family Relations, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
Carmel Parker White, PhD, is an assistant professor, at the Department of Child Development and Family Relations, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
Candyce S. Russell, PhD, is a professor, School of Family Studies and Human Services, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Jackie Williams Reade, PhD, at email@example.com. She is a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, Baltimore, MD.
Authors have nothing to disclose. No author reports any conflict of interest. No funding support was received in the form of institutional support, noncommercial grants, commercial support, and support in kind, equipment, or all of these.