Sunday, August 3, 2014

Contributing to MS Research: Social Determinants of Physical Activity in MS

Participating in the research study has been super easy so far.  Basically I’ve agreed to wear an accelerometer for three 7-day periods of time over the course of one year and to fill-out a battery of questionnaires at specified times.  Eligibility for participation in the study include a diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS, ability to walk with or without a cane, and age between 18-64 years.  For my contribution to the research project, I will receive up to $30 compensation in the form of gift cards.  (A $10 Starbucks card was included with the study materials for this first 7-day period.)

The purpose of the study (as I understand it) is to examine social cognitive determinants of physical activity in persons with multiple sclerosis.  Many of us living with MS become less active, although we may know that maintaining a certain level of physical activity is good for us.  It not only improves our physical function and contributes to better health, but benefits our overall well-being and health-related quality of life.

What are some of the factors that influence physical activity?  

According to the social cognitive theory (SCT), a theory of social learning, key determinants of physical activity include social/environmental supports, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and self-regulation.  SCT helps to explain how people acquire and maintain certain behavioral patterns.  SCT argues that individuals who believe they can be physically active (i.e., higher self-efficacy) will expect favorable results from physical activity (i.e., outcome expectations) and will be more likely to implement the self-regulatory behaviors essential to adopting and maintaining an active lifestyle.

I wanted to learn more about social cognitive determinants and previous work of the researchers involved in this particular study, so I conducted a quick search of published articles at NIH’s  I had planned to list the studies here, but found at least 170 articles related to MS that Drs. Motl and Chiu had contributed to over the past 10 years, too many to list.

I did learn that in prior studies related to social cognitive determinants of physical activity, researchers found that self-efficacy, functional limitations, and goal setting had statistically significant direct effects on physical activity in persons with MS and may represent modifiable targets for changing physical activity behavior in persons with RRMS (Suh, 2011, 2014; Dlugnomski, 2011).  These papers and a few others that are related to the current study at the University of Illinois are listed at the end of this article.

For more information about the current study I’m participating in, and to ask about how you can contribute, please contact Dr. Chung-Yi Chiu by telephone: (844) 800-9972 or email: 

It would be great if we could help Dr. Chiu recruit a large number of MS patients to participate.

Read this post in its entirety:
Researchers Recruiting for MS Study: Physical Activity in Persons with MS

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