Loneliness in Women with Multiple Sclerosis


  • Claudia C. Beal MN RN CNM,

    Doctoral Student, Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Claudia C. Beal, MN RN CNM, is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing.

  • Alexa Stuifbergen PhD RN FAAN

    ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Alexa Stuifbergen, PhD RN FAAN, is a professor at the University of Texas at the Austin School of Nursing.

University of Texas at Austin, 1700 Red River Drive, Austin, TX 78701-4710. She may be contacted at threebeals@gmail.com


Loneliness is an underrecognized component of the experience of chronic illness and disability. Women with multiple sclerosis (MS) may be at risk for loneliness due to social network changes that occur in the course of chronic illness. The purpose of this secondary analysis was to assess the extent of loneliness in a sample of 659 women with MS and examine the relationship of loneliness, social support, functional limitation, self-rated health status, social demands of illness, and marital status. More than half of the women in this sample reported feeling lonely. A significant association was found between loneliness and lower levels of social support, greater social demands of illness, greater functional limitation, lower self-rated health status, and marital status. These findings suggest that rehabilitation nurses and other health professionals should be aware that loneliness may be a common occurrence for women with MS and point to the need for screening procedures to identify loneliness in this population.