The nature of anger in people with multiple sclerosis: a qualitative study

Christianne M. Laing, Clare L. Cooper, Fiona Summers, Louisa Lawrie, Shibeal O’Flaherty, Louise H. Phillips* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: People with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) who experience higher levels of anger also report poorer quality of life (QoL). This qualitative study explored the subjective experience of anger amongst pwMS, and how anger influenced their lives.

Methods: A series of semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 20 pwMS. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and then Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse the emerging themes.

Results: The most common experience of anger was frustration that MS-related symptoms restricted participation in everyday activities. Also, some experiences of anger-with-self were focused on frustration at the inability to overcome symptom-related activity limitations. Participants reported frustration with others’ insensitivity to the effects of the disease process, as well as usual daily irritations with family and colleagues. Some of the participants reported the use of coping strategies to deal with anger episodes.

Conclusion: Many pwMS experience frustration at the restrictions that the disease places on them, self-directed anger, and irritation with others’ attitude towards them. Much research in MS focuses on physical symptoms, but current results indicate that there is a need to better understand the emotional challenges faces by pwMS, and to provide more support for those who are experiencing frustration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824-837
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology & Health
Issue number7
Early online date22 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Multiple Sclerosis Society (UK) under grant number 957.


  • anger
  • emotion
  • frustration
  • quality of life
  • activity limitations
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Anger


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