February 11, 2019
"I can do more than I thought I could": exploring the online blogs from the Sailing Sclerosis Oceans of Hope journey.
Diagnosis of a chronic, unpredictable, and incurable disease such as multiple sclerosis can have profound effects on emotional wellbeing. The Sailing Sclerosis Foundation provided an opportunity for 94 individuals living with multiple sclerosis from 16 countries to challenge themselves by sailing aboard the Oceans of Hope yacht, as it circumnavigated the globe over a 17-month period in 2014 and 2015. We explored the psychosocial outcomes of this unique journey.
Deductive thematic analysis was used to analyze 206 blogs posted online by participants to the Sailing Sclerosis website during and after their journey.
Four major themes were identified: (1) the challenges of the journey; (2) teamwork and camaraderie that arose from sharing a diagnosis in common; (3) reframing mindsets as people acknowledged and adjusted to their diagnosis; and (4) empowerment and personal growth with hope rediscovered. The blogs suggested psychosocial outcomes of the journey included lower levels of depression, better quality of life, more positive well-being, an increase in self-esteem, reduced anxiety, lower stress levels, and better life satisfaction, as well as increased social support and empowerment.
Numerous psychosocial benefits are achievable when individuals with multiple sclerosis are provided with opportunities and support to challenge themselves. Implications for Rehabilitation A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis does not necessarily have to mean a sedentary lifestyle and social isolation. Psychological adjustment to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, changes in mindset, and rediscovering hope and optimism can be achieved by adventurous means outside clinical settings. We encourage clinicians, policy makers, and funding bodies to think 'outside the box' when developing and supporting programs for individuals living with chronic illnesses.
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