Prospective relationship of mastery & relapse, disability and fatigue in multiple sclerosis

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Number of Honour Places Available
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Steve Simpson, Jr. Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
A/Professor Tracey Weiland Personal web page

Project Details

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive, autoimmune, demyelinating condition of the central nervous system, manifesting in sensory, motor and/or cognitive dysfunction. Given its onset is typically in the prime years of life – often in the 20s – it has devastating impacts on the quality of life and independent living of the patients so affected.

Mastery, the sense of being in control of one’s life, is often a necessary element for positive lifestyle and overall health. Likewise, negative lifestyle and poor health can reduce one’s sense of mastery, with a negative feedback loop further exacerbating both. While we have previously shown that better mastery is associated with a better quality of life, what is yet lacking is a study of the interrelationship of clinical features, including relapse rate, disability, and fatigue, with mastery. It is reasonable to assume that a worse clinical course might impact negatively on one’s sense of mastery, but whether an improved mastery might have benefits on clinical course is tantalising.

Using the HOLISM longitudinal cohort study (n=1,401 at 2.5-yr follow-up, n=952 at 5-yr follow-up), this project will examine the prospective relationship of mastery, as measured by the Pearson Mastery Scale, with clinical outcomes in MS, including relapse rate, disability as measured by the Patient Determined Disease Steps and fatigue as measured by the Fatigue Severity Scale. While there is undoubtedly a significant amount of reverse causality underlying these associations, the longitudinal nature of the sample will enable the assessment of causal directionality by leading and lagging techniques from prior/subsequent timepoints. If there is evidence of a causal beneficial association, this work could indicate another point of intervention to improve upon clinical course in MS.

Analysis methods to be employed include linear regression, multilevel mixed-effects linear regression, log-binomial regression, and/or Poisson regression, including univariable and multivariable models, as well as potential inter-group assessment of interaction by sex, age, MS course, or others as appropriate.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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