University of Tasmania

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Self-reported behaviour change among multiple sclerosis community members and interested laypeople 6 months following participation in a free online course about multiple sclerosis

Version 2 2024-04-23, 03:17
Version 1 2023-05-21, 17:09
journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-23, 03:17 authored by Susan ClaflinSusan Claflin, Julie CampbellJulie Campbell, Ingrid van der MeiIngrid van der Mei, Casey MainsbridgeCasey Mainsbridge, BV Taylor

Issue addressed: Evaluated the impact of the Understanding Multiple Sclerosis (MS) massive open online course, which was intended to increase understanding and awareness about MS, on self-reported health behaviour change 6 months after course completion.

Methods: Observational cohort study evaluating precourse(baseline) and postcourse (immediately postcourse and six-month follow-up) survey data. The main study outcomes were self-reported health behaviour change; change type; and measurable improvement. We also collected participant characteristic data (eg, age, physical activity). We compared participants who reported health behaviour change at follow-up to those who did not and compared those who improved to those who did not using χ2 and t tests. Participant characteristics, change types and change improvement were described descriptively. Consistency between changes reported immediately postcourse and at the 6-month follow-up was assessed using χ2 tests and textual analysis.

Results: N = 303 course completers were included in this study. The study cohort included MS community members (eg, people with MS, healthcare providers) and nonmembers. N = 127 (41.9%) reported behaviour change in ≥1 area at follow-up. Of these, 90 (70.9%) reported a measured change, and of these, 57 (63.3%) showed improvement. The most reported change types were knowledge, exercise/physical activity and diet. N = 81 (63.8% of those reporting a change) reported a change in both immediately and 6 months after course completion, with 72.0% of those that described both changes giving similar responses each time.

Conclusion: Understanding MS encourages health behaviour change among course completers up to 6 months after course completion.

So what? An online education intervention can effectively encourage health behaviour change over a 6-month follow-up period, suggesting a transition from acute change to maintenance. The primary mechanisms underpinning this effect are information provision, including both scientific evidence and lived experience, and goal-setting activities and discussions.


Multiple Sclerosis Australia


Publication title

Health Promotion Journal of Australia










Education, Menzies Institute for Medical Research


John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Publication status

  • Published

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2023 Australian Health Promotion Association.

Socio-economic Objectives

200202 Evaluation of health outcomes