Can we manage fatigue better?

Most people with MS will experience fatigue at some point. It can be one of the most difficult symptoms of MS to deal with, and affect the quality of people's lives.

But research into fatigue is on the increase, and there is some hope on the horizon.

What’s new?

Researchers have just successfully completed a pilot study (funded by the MS Society) of an internet-based therapy, called ‘MS Invigor8’.

We already know that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a psychologist can help with fatigue. These researchers at King’s College London and the University of Southampton aimed to make CBT more accessible, by designing it to be internet-based and self-manageable.

The MS Invigor8 study involved a group of 40 people with MS. The group experienced less fatigue as well as showing improvements in anxiety, depression and general quality of life. This internet-based CBT could be a really cost-effective treatment for fatigue, and we hope that a larger randomised-controlled trial will follow.

More funding

Professor Rona Moss-Morris, the lead researcher for the Invigor8 trial, and her team at King’s College London were recently awarded £92,000 by the MS Society. They will develop a pilot for a telephone-based mindfulness cognitive therapy for people with progressive MS.

It aims to reduce stress and improve mood and quality of life, which may also then lead to a larger trial in the future.

Prof Moss-Morris spoke at MS Life this year about her MS Society funded research into CBT - her talk is currently available to watch online.

She explained how CBT can be used to help people manage fatigue, depression and adjustment to living with MS. Her team have used their research to design a CBT package to help people to adjust to MS and have found that it is a more effective therapy than supportive listening.

Fatigue management workshops and training

Managing fatigue was a key theme at this year’s MS Life. Two popular interactive workshops were run throughout the weekend – giving hints and tips on management for people with MS. 

We also ran a training course to teach physiotherapists, occupational therapists and MS nurses how to run a fatigue management programme for people with MS in their local area. This programme, called FACETS*, was developed by researchers at Bournemouth University and Poole Hospital NHS Trust.

The FACETS programme was recently further evaluated in a large trial funded by the MS Society. The results of this trial showed that using a combination of cognitive behavioural and ‘energy effectiveness’ approaches reduced people’s fatigue levels.

Forty professionals attended this training event and we hope that they will use their new skills to help people who experience MS fatigue far and wide across the UK. The good news is that we are planning more of these training sessions for the remainder of 2012 and hopefully into 2013.

As you can see, there is a lot going on at the moment. Keep checking our research pages for updates on fatigue management.


*FACETS stands for ‘Fatigue: Applying Cognitive behavioural and Energy effectiveness Techniques to lifeStyle’

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