Pilot Randomized Control Trial of a Brief Multidisciplinary Consultation Intervention for Treating Sexual Dysfunction in MS
Schairer, Laura C.
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Sexual dysfunction (SD) in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common yet often overlooked symptom. Pharmacological treatment trials have demonstrated limited efficacy; thus, behavioral treatments need to be explored. The aim of this study was to conduct a pilot randomized control trial of a brief two-visit multidisciplinary behavioral intervention utilizing a consultation model for adults with MS and SD. It was hypothesized that the consultation intervention group would experience significant improvements compared to the educational intervention group in sexual functioning as measured by the Multiple Sclerosis Intimacy and Sexuality Questionnaire- 19 (MSISQ-19). There were 50 participants, 24 randomized to the consultation condition and 26 to the educational condition. Those in the educational condition received educational materials on the topic of sexuality and intimacy in MS. Those in the consultation condition received two consultation intervention sessions along with their sexual partner, each separated by one month to allow for completion of practice assignments between sessions. For both conditions, participants completed baseline measures and two-month outcome measures. Data was analyzed using a mixed model ANOVA utilizing the MSISQ-19 as the dependent variable. 48 participants were included in the final analysis. There was a significant main effect for time point, F (1, 46) = 23.18, p < .001, with an effect size of etap 2 = .335. Thus, regardless of treatment group, there was a significant reduction in sexual symptoms from baseline to follow-up. However, there was neither a main effect for treatment group F (1, 46) = 2.07, p = .157, nor an interaction effect F (1, 46) = 0.61, p = .440. Thus, results suggested that both consultation sessions and educational materials significantly reduced sexual symptoms and that there was no difference in their efficacy. However, participants in the consultation group were more likely to report that the study was "helpful" than the educational group, x 2 (1) = 4.05, p = .044. The odds of finding the study "helpful" was 4.16 times higher in the consultation group than in the educational group. Behavioral and educational interventions have the potential to improve sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction for people living with MS.