People with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) often have pain and/or fatigue. Unfortunately, available
treatments provide inadequate relief for the majority of these individuals. There remains an
urgent need for additional treatment options for MS-related symptoms. The purpose of this
study is to see if alternative treatments that involve self-hypnosis training, neurofeedback
training and/or mindfulness meditation training, or a combination of some of these
treatments can help decrease pain and fatigue in people with MS. A subject must have a
diagnosis of MS, have chronic pain and/or fatigue, and be at least 18 years old to
participate, among other criteria.
Individuals from the study's recruitment sources with an MS diagnosis will be contacted by
research staff via telephone and invited to be screened for participation. In addition,
individuals interested in participating may contact research staff upon learning about the
study through a description listed on an approved website, flyer, or a referral. Research
staff will use a recruitment script for purposes of screening subjects and explaining the
study. In addition, the initial screening process will also include a 6-item cognitive
screening and a psychological screening assessment done by a licensed clinician.
Research staff will verify the MS diagnosis of prospective subjects who have not been
'pre-verified' in one of three ways during the recruitment process:
1. Research staff will attempt to determine whether a subject has a University of
Washington Medical Center (UWMC) or Harborview Medical Center (HMC) medical record by
conducting a simple search using a secure application.
If research staff are unable to locate a medical record for the prospective subject, or
if the individual contacts research staff after seeing the study description on an
approved website or flyer, then one of two options will be pursued:
2. Subjects will be asked during the initial screening process if staff may review their
medical records if they have received services at the UWMC/HMC since their diagnosis;
3. Subjects will be asked during the initial screening process if staff may contact a
physician of their choice to verify their diagnosis if (a) they have not received
services at the UWMC/HMC since their diagnosis; (b) they refuse to give staff
permission to review their UWMC/HMC medical records; or (c) staff for some reason
cannot find a UWMC/HMC medical record despite the subject attesting to being a patient
at one time at the UWMC/HMC and giving staff permission to review his/her records.
Only individuals whose diagnosis has been verified (either via medical record review prior
to/during screening or through verification via the subject's physician depending on
recruitment source) will proceed with the psychological screening assessment.
Once a prospective subject has been screened as eligible and gotten their MS diagnosis
verified, research staff will arrange a time and date for the prospective subject to
participate in a telephone psychological screening assessment with one of the study's
licensed clinicians. The study clinician will ask potential subjects some questions to
assess the presence of active suicidal ideation or paranoid thoughts using an assessment
sheet. Individuals who do have these types of thoughts will not be eligible for the study.
Individuals will be referred to a mental health professional if he or she needs immediate
Research staff will then arrange a time with the subject to attend an in-person initial
intake session. At the beginning of the initial intake session, research staff will review a
consent form with the subject and answer any questions he/she may have. The subject will
complete and sign the consent form if he/she would like to participate. If the subject
decides to enroll in the study, he/she will then be asked to participate in a relaxation and
hypnotic exercise, and provide basic demographic and contact information, as well as
information about their MS diagnosis and pain and/or fatigue problem(s) he/she experiences.
The initial intake session will last about 1.5 hours depending on the subject's answers.
Subjects will be randomly assigned (by chance, like flipping a coin) to one of three
treatment interventions. All three treatment interventions involve learning self-hypnosis
techniques. During self-hypnosis, subjects learn to enter a state of focused attention, and
then change how they experience pain and/or fatigue. Two of the three treatment
interventions will also include mindfulness meditation or neurofeedback training.
Investigators are interested in comparing the three different approaches to treating chronic
pain and/or fatigue.
A research staff member will also contact each subject four times by telephone during
his/her participation in the study to complete three short interviews or assessments, 3-5
minutes long, and one longer assessment, about 30-40 minutes long, in a period of one week.
These assessments will be completed one week prior to the treatment period, about halfway
through the treatment period, after the completion of treatment, and 1-month after the
subject completes treatment. The three shorter assessments will include questions about pain
intensity. The fourth longer assessment will include questions about such things as how the
subject thinks about pain and fatigue, treatments for pain and/or fatigue the subject has
received, medications or drugs the subject has used, and any depressive symptoms the subject
may have experienced.
- 18 years of age or older
- Diagnosis of MS
- Moderate to severe chronic pain and/or fatigue
- Able to read, speak, and understand English
- Severe cognitive impairment defined as two or more errors on the Six-Item Screener
- History of seizure activity
- Psychiatric condition or symptoms that would interfere with participation
- Currently receiving psychological treatment for pain and/or fatigue
- Has participated in any previous or current research study conducted by investigators
in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine that involved pain or fatigue management
via psychological treatments