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Navigating the “liberation procedure”: a qualitative study of motivating and hesitating factors among people with multiple sclerosis

Authors Ploughman M, Harris C, Hogan S, Murray C, Murdoch M, Austin M, Stefanelli M

Received 4 April 2014

Accepted for publication 8 May 2014

Published 10 September 2014 Volume 2014:8 Pages 1205—1213


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 7

Michelle Ploughman,1 Chelsea Harris,1 Stephen H Hogan,1 Cynthia Murray,2 Michelle Murdoch,3 Mark W Austin,1 Mark Stefanelli4

1Recovery and Performance Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, 2School of Nursing, Memorial University, 3Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, 4Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St John’s, NL, Canada

Background: The debate within the multiple sclerosis (MS) community initiated by the chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) hypothesis and the subsequent liberation procedure placed some people with MS at odds with health care professionals and researchers.
Objective: This study explored decision making regarding the controversial liberation procedure among people with MS.
Subjects and methods: Fifteen people with MS (procedure, n=7; no procedure, n=8) participated in audiotaped semistructured interviews exploring their thoughts and experiences related to the liberation procedure. Data were transcribed and analyzed using an iterative, consensus-based, thematic content-analysis approach.
Results: Participants described an imbalance of motivating factors affirming the procedure compared to hesitating factors that provoked the participant to pause or reconsider when deciding to undergo the procedure. Collegial conversational relationships with trusted sources (eg, MS nurse, neurologist) and ability to critically analyze the CCSVI hypothesis were key hesitating factors. Fundraising, family enthusiasm, and the ease of navigation provided by medical tourism companies helped eliminate barriers to the procedure.
Conclusion: Knowledge of factors that helped to popularize the liberation procedure in Canada may inform shared decision making concerning this and future controversies in MS.

Keywords: alternative medicine, CCSVI, decision making, liberation, multiple sclerosis, qualitative

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