Qualitative Findings from a Pilot Randomized Control Trial of a Brief Multidisciplinary Consultation Intervention for Treating Sexual Dysfunction in MS
Objectives: The aim of the study was to conduct a pilot randomized control trial of a brief two-visit multidisciplinary behavioral intervention utilizing a consultation model for adults with MS and SD. It was hypothesized that the intervention group would be more likely to subjectively report significant improvements in comparison to the control group in sexual functioning and relationship satisfaction.
Methods: Participants were recruited from the MS Center at Holy Name Medical Center. There are a total of 49 participants, with 23 randomized to the intervention condition and 26 to the control condition. Those in the control condition received educational materials on the topic of sexuality and intimacy in MS. Those in the intervention condition received two consultation intervention sessions along with their sexual partner, each separated by one month to allow for completion of practice assignments between sessions. At the end of the study, participants were asked the following question: “Overall, did you find that participating in this study was helpful, neutral or detrimental to your sex life with your partner?” Additionally, participants were asked an open-ended question about aspects of the intervention or educational materials that they found helpful. The responses to to this open-ended question were qualitatively scored.
Results: Of the 49 people who completed the study, 36 people stated that participating in the study was helpful, 13 said it was neutral, and 0 thought it was detrimental to their sex lives. Of the 23 participants in the intervention condition, 20 responded “helpful” (87%) and 3 responded “neutral” (13%). Of the 26 participants in the control condition, 16 responded “helpful” (61%) and 10 responded “neutral” (39%). A pearson chi-square test was performed to examine the relation between randomization group and subjective results. People in the intervention group were more likely to report that the study was “helpful” than the control group, x2 (1) = 4.05, p = .044. The odds of finding the study “helpful” was 4.16 times higher if in the intervention group than in the control group.
Conclusions: Behavioral and educational interventions have the potential to improve sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction for people living with MS.