A randomized trial of stress management for the prevention of new brain lesions in MS

David C. Mohr, Jesus Lovera, Ted Brown, Bruce Cohen, Thomas Neylan, Roland Henry, Juned Siddique, Ling Jin, David Daikh, Daniel Pelletier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Objectives: This trial examined the efficacy of a stress management program in reducing neuroimaging markers of multiple sclerosis (MS) disease activity. Methods: A total of 121 patients with relapsing forms of MS were randomized to receive stress management therapy for MS (SMT-MS) or a wait-list control condition. SMT-MS provided 16 individual treatment sessions over 24 weeks, followed by a 24-week post-treatment follow-up. The primary outcome was the cumulative number of new gadolinium-enhancing (Gd+) brain lesions on MRI at weeks 8, 16, and 24. Secondary outcomes included new or enlarging T2 MRI lesions, brain volume change, clinical exacerbation, and stress. Results: SMT-MS resulted in a reduction in cumulative Gd+ lesions (p = 0.04) and greater numbers of participants remained free of Gd+ lesions during the treatment (76.8% vs 54.7%, p = 0.02), compared to participants receiving the control treatment. SMT-MS also resulted in significantly reduced numbers of cumulative new T2 lesions (p = 0.005) and a greater number of participants remaining free of new T2 lesions (69.5% vs 42.7%, p = 0.006). These effects were no longer detectable during the 24-week post-treatment follow-up period. Conclusions: This trial indicates that SMT-MS may be useful in reducing the development of new MRI brain lesions while patients are in treatment. Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that SMT-MS, a manualized stress management therapy program, reduced the number of Gd+ lesions in patients with MS during a 24-week treatment period. This benefit was not sustained beyond 24 weeks, and there were no clinical benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-419
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 31 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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