Background: Positive psychology (PP) uses targeted activities to increase the frequency and intensity of positive feelings and may improve overall well-being in medically ill populations. In this pilot study, we examined the feasibility, acceptability and potential impact of a five-week, telephone-delivered, PP intervention for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Methods: Participants were randomized 1:1 to a five-week at-home PP intervention or waitlist control condition. Participants engaged in weekly phone calls with a study trainer and completed one PP exercise, such as recalling a past success, each week. Feasibility was determined by the number of sessions completed, and acceptability was assessed by weekly post-exercise participant ratings (0–10) of ease and utility. Efficacy was explored by examining between-group differences in changes from baseline on psychological variables, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and self-reported functional activities at five and ten weeks.
Results: Thirty patients enrolled in the study. Ninety-three percent of participants (n = 28) completed all exercises. Ease scores ranged from 7.7–8.7 and utility scores ranged from 8.2–8.7. The PP intervention was associated with significantly greater increases (P < .05) in positive affect, optimism, state and trait anxiety, general health, and resilience in the intervention group compared to the control group. Approximately half of the PP participants maintained ≥ 50% of the improvement at 10 weeks.
Conclusions: This five-week, telephone-based PP intervention was feasible and acceptable to individuals with MS. Larger randomized controlled trials are warranted to further investigate the utility of this intervention to improve well-being and other health outcomes in MS.