Self-efficacy plays a significant part in symptom management and may be predictive of perceived cognitive impairment (PCI) for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). The primary objective of this study was to determine if self-efficacy longitudinally predicts two types of PCI in MS: general cognitive functioning and executive functioning. The secondary aim was to assess whether self-efficacy mediates the relationships between depression, fatigue, and PCI. Primary outcome measures were the Applied Cognition General Concerns (ACGC) and Executive Function (ACEF) domains of the Quality of Life in Neurological Disorders (NeuroQoL) measures. Self-efficacy was significantly correlated with PCI at baseline (r = .40 to .53) and three years later (r = .36 to .44). In multivariate regression analyses, self-efficacy was a significant longitudinal predictor of PCI, for general cognitive functioning (β = .20, p < .01) as well as executive functioning (β = .16, p < .05). Self-efficacy partially mediated the relationships between depression, fatigue, and PCI.
Self-efficacy may influence how individuals with MS will perceive their cognitive functioning over time. Interventions that target self-efficacy, particularly early in the disease course, could result in improvements in PCI, as well as improvements in fatigue and depression.