Researchers develop effective fatigue management programme

Published date: 22 May 2013 at 10:16AM

Three people sitting at a table and talkingResearchers funded by the MS Society and based at Bournemouth University and Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have developed an effective method to help people with MS manage their fatigue.

The fatigue management programme, named ‘FACETS’, incorporates ‘energy effectiveness techniques’ – like lifestyle decisions and ways of working that maximise the energy people have – alongside cognitive behavioural strategies, helping participants to learn helpful ways of thinking about fatigue.

Research results

A team of researchers led by Professor Peter Thomas at Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit have recently completed a randomised controlled trial of the FACETS intervention.

They reported that 40% of participants who received FACETS in addition to their routine care had a meaningful improvement in fatigue levels compared with 19% of those who received current local practice only.

Participants who attended the FACETS programme also showed a statistically significant improvement in reported self-efficacy, indicating that they were more certain of their abilities and that their newly learned techniques could help to control their fatigue.

Accessing FACETS

This group based programme is already being delivered by healthcare professionals across the UK and could help thousands of people with MS manage one of the most debilitating symptoms of the condition.

There is considerable interest in the programme and researchers in France are currently translating it and considering how it can be delivered to people with MS in their country.

We encourage healthcare professionals to look into how they can deliver it to people with MS in their area – email for more information about training opportunities to deliver this programme.

People with MS who are interested in receiving FACETS should speak to their local healthcare professionals (physios, OTs, MS nurses) and find out if it is available in their area. If it isn’t, people can ask their health care professional to contact the MS Society for information about training opportunities.

The trial

Researchers studied 164 people with MS and saw groups of participants (between six to 12 at a time) attend six weekly, 90 minute group sessions at trial sites in either Poole, Bristol or Southampton.

Each session was led by two senior healthcare professionals (an MS nurse, occupational therapist or physiotherapist) and attended by others with MS.

A month after the six week intervention, the researchers surveyed participants for self reported fatigue severity, self efficacy and quality of life improvements. A further survey was carried out four months after the end of the course.

Dr Sarah Thomas, Senior Research Fellow at Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit led the development of the FACETS programme and said: “We have shown that FACETS is an effective treatment for managing fatigue in people with MS, addressing one of their worst symptoms”.

She continued “It has been designed so that it can be provided in the health service with relatively little costThis is a good example of researchers and charities working together to provide improvements in patient care.”

The full results of the trial were published this week in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Page last updated: 26 Jul 2013
Fatigue can be a major barrier for people with MS – stopping them from working, socialising and generally living a full life, so we’re delighted this study has proven to be effective in people with MS.
Ed Holloway, Head of Care and Services Research at MS Society
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