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November 1991

Empirical Support for Psychological Profiles Observed in Multiple Sclerosis

Arch Neurol. 1991;48(11):1150-1154. doi:10.1001/archneur.1991.00530230058022

• Though increasing attention is being paid to psychological aspects of multiple sclerosis, much research continues to examine patients as differing in quantity rather than quality of psychological abnormality or response. Cluster analysis was used to identify distinctive psychological profiles in a large sample of patients with multiple sclerosis. It employed three measures, carefully chosen to capture the main responses historically observed in multiple sclerosis. These measures were (1) the patient's physical disability-impairment, assessed by a neurologist; (2) physical disability-impairment as perceived and reported by the patient; and (3) self-reported psychological well-being (or distress) independent of physical signs and symptoms. The optimal solution from the cluster analysis separated the 99 patients into 10 clusters, which were collapsed into four profiles, consistent with the labels "depression," "denial," "exaggerated somatic," and "severity-related." These data give strong empirical support to the existence of discrete and distinctive coping styles in multiple sclerosis.