Kutzinski M, Krause N, Riemann-Lorenz K, Meyer B, Heesen C

Background: Many persons with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) desire to learn how health behaviour changes (e.g., dietary adjustments, physical activity, improvements in stress management) might help them manage their disease. Previous research has shown that certain health behaviour changes can improve quality of life (QoL), fatigue and other MS outcomes. Digital health applications may be well suited to deliver relevant health behavioural interventions because of their accessibility and flexibility. The digital health application „levidex“ was designed to facilitate health behaviour change by offering evidence-based patient information and cognitive-behavioural therapy techniques to pwMS. By doing so, levidex aims to improve QoL and MS symptoms such as fatigue and mental health. Objectives: A previous study reported on the development of levidex; this non-randomised pilot study examined the feasibility (practicability and acceptability) of levidex in pwMS with moderate to severe disability. Furthermore, the intervention’s impact on empowerment, stress management, and relevant health behaviours (e.g., dietary behaviour, physical activity) was explored. Methods: levidex was originally developed for newly diagnosed pwMS in the first year after diagnosis and eventually modified to offer access to pwMS with moderate to severe disability. Participants (n = 43) with an Expanded Disability Status Scale between 3.5 and 7.5 and a disease duration of more than one year were eligible to participate. The intervention was used over a period of six months with measurement time points at baseline, month 3 and month 6. Results: Out of 38 participants who completed the six-month intervention period, 18 (47.4%) completed all 16 modules and 9 (23.7%) reached modules 13-16, the long-term maintenance part of levidex. Participants rated levidex positively in terms of practicability and acceptability and had only few points of criticism such as to include more physical exercise routine suggestions suitable for participants with severe impairment. Data on secondary endpoints showed no significant changes. Conclusion: This pilot study provided evidence for the practicability and acceptability of levidex, a digital health application designed to facilitate health behaviour change in pwMS with moderate to severe disability. Adequately powered randomised controlled studies with longer follow-up periods are needed to clarify the benefit of levidex in pwMS with moderate to severe disability.

BMC Neurol. 2023 Oct 23;23(1):382

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