Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ottens, Allen J.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Multiple sclerosis--Psychological aspects; Adjustment (Psychology)


The disease process of multiple sclerosis (MS) is often a process fraught with potentially debilitating effects on every aspect of a woman's life--socially, emotionally, and physically. It has been reported that in addition to the many physical changes accompanying MS, women may suffer with cognitive impairment issues and higher rates of depression and anxiety. How is it that in spite of all these challenges, some women cope successfully and adapt to a host of changes brought on by a progressive disease? This dissertation investigates why some women with progressive forms of MS cope successfully in spite of disease progression. The researcher recruited 10 participants from northern Illinois for the study. The 10 women had progressive courses of MS, the more physically challenging forms of the disease, and self-reported as coping successfully with MS. Two screening instruments were utilized to corroborate lack of depression and presence of self-efficacy. The qualitative research design is phenomenological and features an interview protocol using a psychotherapeutic model of change, the precursor model, and incorporating a then-post design. Identification of precursor intensity was accompanied by rich description and explanations of how the precursor was utilized by each woman at diagnosis and the present. Significant study findings include the participants' descriptions of precursors indicating a difference between the precursors utilized most frequently by participants at time of diagnosis with MS and at the present time. Those precursors most abundant at diagnosis are hope, support of others, and effort or will toward change. The precursors most abundant at the present are confronting the problem, effort or will toward change, and awareness. Coping with MS might be a developmental process. Awareness may serve as the precursor that potentiates subsequent precursors. As the disease progresses, these women may utilize other precursors such as confronting the problem and effort or will toward change in coping with the disease. Hope and social support also seem to interact with the precursors to create favorable conditions for coping successfully with MS.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [220]-227).


xiii, 254 pages




Northern Illinois University

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