The purpose of this systematic review was to examine coping strategies that people with multiple sclerosis use, and to identify factors that influence their coping pattern. This systematic review followed the Joanna Briggs Institute guidelines for synthesizing descriptive quantitative research. The following databases were searched from the inception of databases until December 2016: Ovid (Medline, Embase, CINAHL, and PsycINFO), Science Direct, Web of Science, and Scopus. Manual search was also conducted from the reference lists of retrieved articles. Findings related to the patterns of coping with multiple sclerosis and factors influencing coping with multiple sclerosis were extracted and synthesized.
The search of the database yielded 455 articles. After excluding duplicates (n = 341) and studies that did not meet the inclusion criteria (n = 27), 71 studies were included in the full-text review. Following the full-text, a further 21 studies were excluded. Quality appraisal of 50 studies was completed, and 38 studies were included in the review. Synthesis of findings indicated that people with multiple sclerosis use emotional and avoidance coping strategies more than other types of coping, particularly in the early stages of the disease. In comparison to the general population, people with multiple sclerosis were less likely to use active coping strategies and used more avoidance and emotional coping strategies. The pattern of coping with multiple sclerosis was associated with individual, clinical and psychological factors including gender, educational level, clinical course, mood and mental status, attitude, personality traits, and religious beliefs.
The findings of this review suggest that considering individual or disease-related factors could help healthcare professionals in identifying those less likely to adapt to multiple sclerosis. This information could also be used to provide client-centered rehabilitation for people living with multiple sclerosis based on their individual responses and perceptions for coping. Implications for rehabilitation Engagement in coping with multiple sclerosis has been associated with individual factors and neuropsychological functions. Considering individual and disease-related factors would allow healthcare professionals to provide more tailored interventions to maintain and master coping with multiple sclerosis. People living with multiple sclerosis should be empowered to appraise and manage ability to cope based on the contextual evidence (individual and clinical condition). Rehabilitation services should move beyond physical management incorporating behavioral aspects for better functioning in living with multiple sclerosis.