Share this article on:

Self-efficacy and Walking Performance in Persons With Multiple Sclerosis

Motl, Robert W. PhD; Balto, Julia M. MS; Ensari, Ipek PhD; Hubbard, Elizabeth A. MS

Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: April 2017 - Volume 41 - Issue 2 - p 114–118
doi: 10.1097/NPT.0000000000000172
Research Articles

Background and Purpose: Impairment of walking function is a prevalent and burdensome feature of multiple sclerosis (MS), and represents a primary focus of rehabilitation research and clinical care. Research examining self-efficacy as a correlate of walking performance in MS is lacking; self-efficacy represents a theory-based, modifiable target of rehabilitation approaches for improving walking outcomes. This cross-sectional study examined the association between self-efficacy and walking performance in persons living with MS.

Methods: The sample included 69 persons with MS who completed the Multiple Sclerosis Self-Efficacy (MSSE) Scale and Exercise Self-Efficacy (EXSE) Scale and undertook the Timed 25-Foot Walk (T25FW) and the 6-Minute Walk (6MW) tests. The data were analyzed using the Pearson product moment correlation coefficients and linear regression.

Results: Correlation analysis indicated that function subscale scores on the MSSE correlated more strongly with T25FW (r = 0.55) than did the control subscale (r = 0.40) and EXSE (r = 0.38) scores, and both function (r = 0.67) and control (r = 0.53) subscale scores on the MSSE correlated more strongly with 6MW than did EXSE scores (r = 0.40). Linear regression analyses indicated that (1) function MSSE subscale, but not control subscale, explained significant variance in T25FW speed and 6MW distance and (2) function MSSE subscale, but not EXSE, explained significant variance in T25FW speed and 6MW distance.

Discussion and Conclusions: We provide the first evidence of an association between self-efficacy, particularly for functioning with MS, and objective walking performance in MS. Future research to replicate and extend these results can inform rehabilitation efforts that target improvement of walking performance in persons with MS.

Digital Abstract available for more insights from the authors (see Slides, Supplemental Digital Content 1,

Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.

Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Correspondence: Robert W. Motl, PhD, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35233 (

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2017 Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, APTA