• About the Study

About the Study

A team at the ‘Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit’ are looking at whether the use of abdominal massage and bowel care advice is more effective than bowel care advice alone for the treatment of bowel problems in people with Multiple Sclerosis. Bowel problems can limit the ability of patients to leave the house, cause pain, and in some cases lead to conditions that require hospitalisation. Abdominal massage has shown promise in a pilot trial already undertaken (McClurg et al. 2011).

The study will take place at ten sites across the United Kingdom. Patients who are interested attend an appointment with a specially trained nurse and following completion of a consent form are randomised into either intervention (bowel care advice and abdominal massage training) or control (bowel care advice only). In the control group, the nurse will review the participant’s existing bowel care and relevant advice will be offered to increase the frequency of their bowel movements. The intervention group will also receive this advice and the nurse will teach the participant and/or their carer how to deliver the abdominal massage, consisting of four basic strokes. A DVD of the massage technique and a training booklet will be provided for the participant. Both sets of participants then complete weekly bowel diaries and follow-up telephone calls with nurses to discuss their bowel management and movements, with this process lasting six weeks. Twenty-four weeks after the initial appointment, a further questionnaire, bowel diary and telephone call will be completed by the participant. There is also an opportunity for those randomised to the intervention group to take part in a telephone interview. Participants who were not in the abdominal massage group will receive access to the training materials after completion of the study.