The goals of this study were to describe the ways in which patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) manage chronic sorrow and to apply this information to the theoretical model of chronic sorrow. This descriptive study involved 38 participants with MS who were experiencing chronic sorrow. Using the theoretical model of chronic sorrow, we applied content analysis to participants' accounts of how they attempted to manage this sorrow. The findings showed that discomfort resulted from ineffective management of chronic sorrow, reflecting the vulnerability these patients experience and the lack of understanding of their needs and appropriate support from family, friends, and healthcare personnel. In some cases, however, the losses and emotional distress caused by MS were managed effectively, which led to increased comfort through personal growth and a greater appreciation of life, greater confidence, and hope for the future. The theoretical model was valuable in helping to describe participants' patterns of managing chronic sorrow. Healthcare personnel should acknowledge chronic sorrow as one aspect of psychological distress in MS. Knowledge of patients' experiences of chronic sorrow should be included in the education for neuroscience nurses. Furthermore, it is necessary to develop support interventions for patients with chronic sorrow and their families.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Ann-Kristin Isaksson, PhD RN RNT, firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a senior lecturer in the School of Health and Medical Sciences at Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.
Gerd Ahlström, PhD RN RNT, is a professor and dean in the School of Health Sciences at Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden.