Meeting the mental health needs of people with multiple sclerosis: a qualitative study of patients and professionals
Abigail Methley, Stephen Campbell, Sudeh Cheraghi-Sohi and Carolyn Chew-Graham
Purpose: To explore perspectives and experiences of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and health care professionals of mental health support for MS in the UK. Method: 24 people with MS, 13 practice nurses, 12 general practitioners (GPs) and 9 MS specialist nurses were recruited through community groups and primary care practices across North West England. Semistructured interviews were conducted, and data analyzed thematically using constant comparative analysis within and across the data sets. The theoretical framework of candidacy was used to interrogate data. Results: Four themes were identified: candidates for care, management choices, defining roles, and permeability and responsiveness. Discussion: Candidacy for care, and symptom management, depended on the framing of symptoms through a social or medical model of depression. Normalizing symptoms could prevent help-seeking by patients. Reported referral behavior varied by professional group, based on perceived remit, competency and training needs. GPs were perceived by patients and other professionals as central for management of mental health needs in MS, but may not perceive this role themselves, suggesting a need for increased knowledge, training, and improved access to specialist care.