The notion of "invisibility" in people's experiences of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis: a systematic meta-synthesis.

08:00 EDT 24th March 2020 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "The notion of "invisibility" in people's experiences of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis: a systematic meta-synthesis."

Invisible symptoms have a negative impact on people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), related to the very notion that they are "unseen." It is important to understand the notion of "invisibility" in MS, as invisible symptoms are particularly distressing, and there is a paucity of research focussing on their invisible nature and its specific impact. We aimed to systematically identify, appraise and synthesise qualitative research regarding the notion of "invisibility" in relation to people's lived experience of symptoms of MS. Articles meeting inclusion criteria were critically appraised and synthesised using a meta-ethnographic approach. 17 articles were identified from six electronic databases. Three third-order themes were presented as a . "Invisibility" was conceptualised by people with MS as a discrepancy between the internal experience of symptoms and what is observed externally. "Invisibility" of MS symptoms was found to have numerous impacts, including not feeling understood or validated by others, issues around the perceived legitimacy of the illness, and living with needs which are hidden. We found that "invisibility" by its nature offers people a choice of strategies they use to navigate it. This choice introduces a dilemma: disclose the diagnosis to be "seen," or remain "invisible." This review revealed the manner in which people with MS are affected by the invisibility of their symptoms and the various adaptations used to navigate these lived experiences. We highlight the need to improve clinician and public understanding, and to better respond to these experiences. Future research focusing on the exploration of people's experiences of "invisibility" in MS, including the ways in which "invisibility" is managed on a day-to-day basis could raise clinical and public awareness of the impact of "invisibility" and how to provide support for this, thus easing the dilemmas faced by those with MS.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONPeople with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) experience symptoms that are not overtly visible to others, impacting their emotional and social wellbeing negatively.It is important for healthcare professionals to validate MS patients' experiences around "invisibility" and provide appropriate support.Healthcare professionals should address with MS patients any issues around disclosure of their diagnosis to those around them and support them to navigate these decisions.Raising awareness about the impact of "invisibility" for people with MS may help to lessen patient burden and promote understanding amongst healthcare professionals and the general public.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Disability and rehabilitation
ISSN: 1464-5165
Pages: 1-15


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A form of multiple sclerosis characterized by a progressive deterioration in neurologic function which is in contrast to the more typical relapsing remitting form. If the clinical course is free of distinct remissions, it is referred to as primary progressive multiple sclerosis. When the progressive decline is punctuated by acute exacerbations, it is referred to as progressive relapsing multiple sclerosis. The term secondary progressive multiple sclerosis is used when relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis evolves into the chronic progressive form. (From Ann Neurol 1994;36 Suppl:S73-S79; Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, pp903-914)

A non-glycosylated form of interferon beta-1 that has a serine at position 17. It is used in the treatment of both RELAPSING-REMITTING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS and CHRONIC PROGRESSIVE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.

An autoimmune disorder mainly affecting young adults and characterized by destruction of myelin in the central nervous system. Pathologic findings include multiple sharply demarcated areas of demyelination throughout the white matter of the central nervous system. Clinical manifestations include visual loss, extra-ocular movement disorders, paresthesias, loss of sensation, weakness, dysarthria, spasticity, ataxia, and bladder dysfunction. The usual pattern is one of recurrent attacks followed by partial recovery (see MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, RELAPSING-REMITTING), but acute fulminating and chronic progressive forms (see MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, CHRONIC PROGRESSIVE) also occur. (Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p903)

An interferon beta-1 subtype that has a methionine at position 1, a cysteine at position 17, and is glycosylated at position 80. It functions as an ANTI-VIRAL AGENT and IMMUNOMODULATOR and is used to manage the symptoms of RELAPSING-REMITTING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.

The most common clinical variant of MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, characterized by recurrent acute exacerbations of neurologic dysfunction followed by partial or complete recovery. Common clinical manifestations include loss of visual (see OPTIC NEURITIS), motor, sensory, or bladder function. Acute episodes of demyelination may occur at any site in the central nervous system, and commonly involve the optic nerves, spinal cord, brain stem, and cerebellum. (Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, pp903-914)

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