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MS Trial Alert: Investigators Recruiting for Study of Online Support Groups, Focusing on Black and Latinx People with MS

December 22, 2021

SUMMARY: Investigators are enrolling 80 people with MS for a study of a 12-week online support group program. The entire study is done remotely. The researchers are prioritizing Black and Latinx individuals but are accepting all adults with MS who have internet access, regardless of race. This research is funded by the National MS Society through Fast Forward.
 
Rationale: People with MS often describe feeling alone in their MS journey. Support groups deliver tangible benefits, but the logistics of getting to a traditional support group can be insurmountable. With a pilot grant from the Society, Dr. Victoria Leavitt of Columbia University showed that an online support group program was feasible and reduced depression and loneliness in a small clinical trial of people with MS. Based on these positive results, Dr. Leavitt launched eSupport Health, a public benefit corporation delivering private, secure, video link-enabled group-based workshops and support moderated by a licensed coach with knowledge of MS.
 
Eligibility and Details: Participants are people aged 18 and up, diagnosed with MS, and have access to a web camera and a stable internet connection (using either a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer).
 
Participants will be enrolled into private, online support groups called eSupport Health Weekly Group Sessions, led by a licensed therapist who specializes in MS. Each group is expected to have 10 participants and will meet weekly for 12 weeks. These sessions are hosted on eSupport Health’s proprietary Zoom-based secure telehealth platform.
 
The first 10 people enrolled will start the 12-week treatment immediately. Thereafter, participants will first complete a 12-week waitlist period, which will serve as a control for comparison to the treatment program. Participation in the eSupport online support groups trial will be provided free-of-charge for the duration of the study.
 
The primary outcome being measured is whether participants adhere to the program and complete it. Secondary outcome measures include whether the program improves anxiety, depression, healthcare utilization, and quality of life, and decreases loneliness.
 
To learn more about the enrollment criteria for this study, and to find out if you are eligible to participate, please visit https://esupporthealth.com/connectstudy/.

Download a brochure that discusses issues to think about when considering enrolling in an MS clinical trial (PDF).
 
Without participants in research studies, MS research would come to a standstill. Read more here.
 

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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