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Rehabilitation Research and Practice
Volume 2015, Article ID 123494, 7 pages
Research Article

Perceptions of Participants in a Group, Community, Exercise Programme for People with Multiple Sclerosis

Department of Clinical Therapies, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Received 17 July 2015; Accepted 30 August 2015

Academic Editor: Eric Kerckhofs

Copyright © 2015 Rosemary Clarke and Susan Coote. 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.


Purpose. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of people with multiple sclerosis of a community based, group exercise programme. Method. A pragmatic programme evaluation approach using qualitative research design was adopted. Focus groups were used to gather data from 14 participants who had taken part in a RCT of community based exercise interventions for PwMS who used at most a stick to walk outdoors. Data were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis was used to first identify categories and then to group them into themes. Results. Three themes emerged, psychological benefits, physical benefits, and knowledge gained. The psychological benefits included the role of the group as a social and motivational factor, empowerment, confidence, hope, sense of achievement, and pride. Physical benefits were improved energy and reduced fatigue and improved ability and participation. Knowledge gained caused a shift from thoughts that exercise might do harm, to sufficient knowledge that would give participants confidence to exercise themselves. The role of the group was a key element in the positive outcomes. Conclusions. The qualitative analysis supports the findings of the main trial confirming positive effects of community exercise interventions by reducing the impact of MS and fatigue and improving participation.