iStep-MS: Changing physical activity behaviour among people with multiple sclerosis

The iStep-MS trial examined the safety, feasibility and acceptability of a behaviour-change intervention to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

We developed a behaviour-change intervention led by physiotherapists to support people with MS to increase their activity and reduce their sitting time. The intervention consisted of four sessions with a physiotherapist over 3 months supported by a handbook and pedometer. The handbook guided the physiotherapists and participants through the four sessions. Key behaviour change techniques were incorporated into each session. The handbook was developed by cognitive-behavioural therapists, researchers, people with MS and physiotherapists.

We conducted a feasibility randomised controlled trial involving 60 people with MS. Half of them received the behaviour-change intervention. The other half received their usual care. We measured physical activity, step count, sitting time, walking capacity, fatigue, self-efficacy, participation and quality of life before and after the intervention. We also interviewed people who took part in the intervention and physiotherapists who delivered it to find out what they thought about it.

The team

The research team was:

  • Dr Jennifer Ryan, Dr Meriel Norris, Dr Jennifer Fortune, Dr Andrea Stennett, Dr Cherry Kilbride, Dr Nana Anokye, Professor Christina Victor, Professor Lorraine deSouza and Dr Grace Lavelle from Brunel University London
  • Dr Wendy Hendrie from Norwich MS Therapy Centre
  • Mohamed Abdul from Berkshire MS Therapy Centre
  • Debbie Brewin and Lee David from 10 minute CBT


The iStep-MS trial was funded by the MS Society UK