MS Energise

A new app is now available to help those with multiple sclerosis (MS) cope with fatigue. The app, MS Energise, uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) principles to help users self-manage the fatigue they experience as a result of their condition.

Recent research undertaken by the MS Energise project team has identified CBT as an effective form of treatment for MS-related fatigue. CBT focusses on enabling people to manage their condition, by facilitating understanding of the illness, changes in thinking in behaviour and, ultimately, positive therapeutic change. A randomised controlled trial (RCT) conducted in the United Kingdom found that CBT delivered in a group format reduced fatigue severity and fatigue self-efficacy (a person’s perceived ability to manage their fatigue) more than usual care, a gain that was maintained one year on from treatment.

An additional RCT found participants who received face to face CBT reported significantly greater reductions in fatigue than those who took part in an active relaxation alternative. Improvements in fatigue severity and impact were also observed following a subsequent pilot of CBT delivered by internet, combined with phone support.

Dr Kirsten van Kessel – Senior Psychology Lecturer at AUT, Clinical Psychologist, and MS Energise project lead – says having a research base of this calibre is rare among the many health apps coming onto the market, and a point of difference for MS Energise. “The MS Energise app is based on our previous research and incorporates CBT principles and mobile technology approaches we have trialled. Thus, both the content and the mode of delivery of the intervention are novel, but underpinned by a robust evidence base.”

While the evidence shows CBT has the potential to have a profound impact on the lives of those with MS, the therapy is not widely available. Offering CBT for fatigue via a mobile app removes the barriers of treatment cost, travel and shortfalls in specialist expertise – a major gain for MS patients, and a development that called for innovation from the project team.

There are seven modules in the app divided into wide ranging areas all which impact on fatigue – Behaviour, Thoughts, Emotions, Body (physiological), World (environment) and Future. In each area the users are learning, interacting and applying them to their day to day life. The users work through it at a pace that suits them. With hours of material, and each person working through it at their own pace. Field-testing has generated positive feedback, with participants noting there is nothing else like MS Energise on offer and one user commenting, “Finally there’s something available that people with MS fatigue can have access to.” Dr van Kessel echoes these sentiments. “There’s a great need for interventions for people with MS,” she says. “We hope MS Energise will alleviate the often debilitating effects of MS-related fatigue and improve daily life for people with Multiple Sclerosis.”

MS Energise is available through the iTunes App Store – click here to download, or visit www.msenergise.com for more information. It will be available on Android in the near future. Subscribe to their newsletter on www.msenergise.com to be notified once MS Energise is available on Android.

The MS Energise project team consists of Dr Kirsten van Kessel, Associate Professor Duncan Babbage, Ann Sezier, Juliet Drown (all of AUT), Professor Paula Kersten (University of Brighton), Dr Sarah Thomas (Bournemouth University), and Professor Peter Thomas (Bournemouth University). The app was developed in collaboration with AUT Ventures, AUT’s Centre for Learning and Teaching and KiwiNet.