Are biased perceptions of exercise modifiable? A case study in reframing for women with Multiple Sclerosis


Cognitive Reframing is a novel exercise coaching strategy used to reduce a person’s negative or biased feelings toward exercise. Evidence in the general population suggests that Cognitive Reframing is effective. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms may magnify a person’s barriers to exercise, increasing their biased perceptions. Prior to implementing counseling strategies into new populations, they must first be pilot tested to understand how it is received and whether the protocol needs to be tailored to the new population. The aim of this research was to understand the experiences with and feasibility of Cognitive Reframing for individuals with MS. This mixed-method study included seven women (Age range 29-48) who completed a reframing session (~15 mins), pre-post descriptive survey measures of cognitive biases and self-efficacy, and a follow-up interview about their experience receiving Cognitive Reframing. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis. Three participant case studies were created to illustrate different experiences with Reframing. Themes derived from follow-up interviews include increased motivation to be physically active and an increased level of self-reflection about their inaccurate views of exercise. One case, Maria experienced a decrease in their cognitive biases (Mpre=8.0 vs Mpost=4.43) and indicated struggling less with exercise during the follow-up. Participants suggested modifications to adapt Reframing to MS Populations. Findings will provide insight on how to tailor and acceptably deliver reframing coaching for individuals with MS.