Dietmaier JM, von dem Knesebeck O, Heesen C, Kofahl C

Background: In a healthcare system which aims to empower the patient, self-management becomes increasingly important. In Multiple Sclerosis, an effective self-management is associated with various favorable health-related outcomes like improvement in quality of life, the reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms, and reduced healthcare costs. This study investigates the association between the Big Five personality traits and self-management including activity in self-help groups. Methods: People with MS were recruited via several paths within Germany (e.g. medical practices, social events and the German MS society). The final study sample consisted of 682 participants who answered a multidimensional questionnaire. This comprised the Big-Five-Inventory-10 for personality, the Health Education Impact Questionnaire (heiQ) for self-management competencies, questions for participation in self-help groups, and socio-demographic and clinical variables. Results: Multivariate regression analyses showed that personality could explain a greater amount of variance of self-management than socio-demographic and clinical variables. Neuroticism was the strongest predictor and correlated negatively with all heiQ-dimensions of self-management. In contrast, in logistic regression analysis none of the Big Five traits became significant in predicting the activity in self-help groups. Conclusion: As expected, personality plays an important role regarding self-management. Ideally, a time-saving personality assessment should be considered in routine clinical practice to identify patients at risk; however, at a minimum, personality traits should be considered in consultations with their neurologists. They may need help to understand the benefits of effective self-management and should receive support to improve their self-management skills and to reduce their neuroticism to lower the risk of secondary complications.

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2022 May;61:103752

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