Background: Symptoms of anxiety, depression, and emotion dysregulation are common among individuals with MS and their support partners. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) – a type of cognitive behavioral intervention – may be a promising treatment for individuals affected by MS. This pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) assessed the effects and feasibility of remotely delivered DBT skills on anxiety and depression symptoms and emotion dysregulation in individuals with MS and their support partners. Methods: This study featured a single-masked, two-arm, parallel group design. Twenty pairs of individuals with MS and their support partners (n = 40) were randomized to 12 weeks of DBT or facilitated peer support (FPS). Masked assessments were completed at weeks 0 (baseline), 13 (post-intervention), and 26 (follow-up). Results: At post-intervention (primary endpoint), participants randomized to DBT exhibited significantly greater reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms compared to FPS (B = 4.45, p = .04, Cohen's d = 0.57). Secondary outcomes of emotion dysregulation and well-being favored the DBT group but did not reach statistical significance (ds = 0.51, ps = 0.07). Effects were not maintained at follow-up. Most (86%) individuals screened were eligible for the trial, and retention (70%) did not differ between study arms. Conclusions: This pilot RCT provides encouraging evidence that DBT skills is feasible and may improve depression, anxiety, and emotion dysregulation for individuals with MS and their support partners. Future research is needed to optimize maintenance of DBT skills, investigate mechanisms for these improvements, and replicate these promising effects in a fully powered trial.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology