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Loneliness in Multiple Sclerosis

Possible Antecedents and Correlates

Balto, Julia M., MS1; Pilutti, Lara A., PhD1; Motl, Robert W., PhD1

doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000128

Purpose The prevalence and possible antecedents and correlates of loneliness in multiple sclerosis (MS) was examined.

Design Cross-sectional, comparative study of MS (n = 63) and healthy adults (n = 21).

Methods Data were collected using self-reports of loneliness and antecedents and correlates and analyzed using inferential statistics.

Findings Those with MS had significantly higher loneliness scores than healthy adults (p < .05), and this was explained by employment status. Possible antecedents included marital status (p < .05), upper extremity function (r= −.28, p < .03), social disability frequency (r= −.49, p < .00), social disability limitations (r= −.38, p < .00), and personal disability limitations (r= −.29, p < .03). Social disability frequency (beta = −.41, p < .001) and marital status (beta = −.23, p < .046) accounted for 25% of the variance in loneliness scores. Possible correlates included depression (r= .49, p < .00), cognitive fatigue (r= .34, p < .01), psychosocial fatigue (r= .30, p < .02), and psychological quality of life (r= .44, p < .00).

Conclusions We provide evidence of loneliness in persons with MS, and this is associated with possible antecedents (e.g., marital status and disability limitations) and correlates (e.g., depression and fatigue).

Clinical Relevance Loneliness should be recognized clinically as an important concomitant of MS.

1Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA.

Correspondence: Robert W. Motl, PhD, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1720 2nd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-1212, USA. E-mail:

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Cite this article as: Balto, J. M., Pilutti, L. A., & Motl, R.W. (2019). Loneliness in multiple sclerosis: Possible antecedents and correlates. Rehabilitation Nursing, 44(1), 52–59. doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000128

© 2019 Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.
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