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Neurology Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 580596, 12 pages
Research Article

Methodology of an International Study of People with Multiple Sclerosis Recruited through Web 2.0 Platforms: Demographics, Lifestyle, and Disease Characteristics

1Emergency Practice Innovation Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC 3065, Australia
2Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia
3Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne (St Vincent’s Hospital), Melbourne, VIC 3065, Australia
4Faculty of Medicine, The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, WA 6959, Australia

Received 20 December 2012; Revised 27 February 2013; Accepted 20 March 2013

Academic Editor: B. R. Ott

Copyright © 2013 Emily J. Hadgkiss et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Despite evidence of the potential importance of the role of health and lifestyle behaviours in multiple sclerosis (MS) outcomes, there has not been a significant focus on this area of research. Aim. We aimed to recruit an international sample of people with MS at baseline and over a five-year timeframe, examine their health and lifestyle behaviours, and determine the relationship of these behaviours to self-reported disability, disease activity, and quality of life. Methods. People with MS were recruited through web 2.0 platforms including interactive websites, social media, blogs, and forums and completed a comprehensive, multifaceted online questionnaire incorporating validated and researcher-derived tools. Results. 2519 participants met inclusion criteria for this study. This paper describes the study methodology in detail and provides an overview of baseline participant demographics, clinical characteristics, summary outcome variables, and health and lifestyle behaviours. The sample described is unique due to the nature of recruitment through online media and due to the engagement of the group, which appears to be well informed and proactive in lifestyle modification. Conclusion. This sample provides a sound platform to undertake novel exploratory analyses of the association between a variety of lifestyle factors and MS outcomes.