Exploring factors to interpretation of targeted nutrition messages for people living with multiple sclerosis

Publication Name

Patient Education and Counseling


Objectives: Current dietary recommendations for MS suggest following national dietary guidelines developed for the general population. The aim of this study was to explore the interpretation of MS-targeted nutrition messages. Methods: Using the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion, three nutrition messages were developed targeting the strongest evidence for MS: vitamin D, dietary fat, and dietary diversity. Semi-structured interviews including the cognitive ‘thinking-aloud’ technique were used to test the messages with adults living with MS. Data were transcribed and coded thematically. Results: Theoretical saturation was reached by 15 interviews. The data corpus indicated three themes and seven subthemes. The data revealed that people living with MS changed their diet after MS diagnosis. Dietary change was due to uncertainty, fear of disease progression and risk of relapse. The admiration and scepticism of extremist MS diets depended on personal vulnerability and support from health care professionals. The unique MS journey appeared influential to message interpretation; driven by engagement, practicality, and credibility. Conclusion: The interpretation of targeted nutrition messages revealed that dietary changes made after diagnosis are a coping mechanism to improve sense of control and self-management. Practical implications: The potential psychological benefit of dietary change for MS management must be prioritised using person-centred care.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

Multiple Sclerosis Australia



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