Multiple sclerosis patients need and want information on exercise promotion from healthcare providers: a qualitative study

Yvonne C. Learmonth, Brynn C. Adamson, Julia M. Balto, Chung Yi Chiu, Isabel Molina-Guzman, Marcia Finlayson, Barry J. Riskin, Robert W. Motl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is growing recognition of the benefits and safety of exercise and its importance in the comprehensive care of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS), yet uptake is low. Objective: We explored the needs and wants of patients with MS regarding exercise promotion through healthcare providers. Setting and participants: Participants were adults with MS who had mild-or-moderate disability and a range of exercise levels. All participants lived in the Midwest of the United States. Methods: Fifty semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using thematic analysis. Two themes emerged, namely interactions between patients and healthcare providers and needs and wants of patients. Results: Analysis of participant accounts illustrate that current exercise promotion by healthcare providers does not meet patient needs and wants. The identified needs and wants of persons with MS involved (i) information and knowledge on the benefits of exercise and exercise prescription, (ii) materials to allow home and community exercise and (iii) tools for initiating and maintaining exercise behaviour. Discussion and conclusion: Patients with MS frequently interact with healthcare providers and are generally unsatisfied with exercise promotion during interactions. Healthcare providers can address the low uptake of exercise among persons with MS by acting upon the identified unmet needs involving materials, knowledge and behaviour change strategies for exercise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-583
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • exercise promotion
  • healthcare communication
  • multiple sclerosis
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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