Date Approved

2016

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Health Sciences

Committee Member

Irwin G. Martin

Committee Member

Stephen Sonstein

Committee Member

Colleen Croxall

Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable and crippling neuro-inflammatory disease, affecting an estimated 2.3 million individuals worldwide and 300,000 to 350,000 people in the U.S. MS is the second most costly chronic condition to treat. Given the severity of MS and its impact on patients’ lives, it is important that patients feel engaged in positive, effective communications about the disease. Because of the complexity of the diagnostic process and the patients’ need to adjust to life with MS, patients seek information from as many sources as possible to help them manage health needs. This study sought to investigate MS patient perceptions of their experiences with access to reliable and useful communications from various information sources, including health care professionals as well as the Internet and social media. The results showed that MS patients are critical to some extent of health care communication from both sources. Survey respondents overwhelmingly favored being able to obtain MS information from health care professionals as well as the Internet, but a large percentage of the respondents expressed some degree of dissatisfaction with health care communications provided by each.

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