Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common life-long neurological condition primarily affecting younger adults.

Loss of normal bowel function is caused by damage to the nerves resulting in constipation and faecal incontinence, which devastating consequences for a person socially and psychologically.

The £742,000 Abdominal Massage for Bowel Dysfunction Effectiveness Research (AMBER) project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s Health Technology Assessment programme and has partners including Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, University of Dundee, University of Aberdeen and University of Stirling.

Researchers led by Dr Doreen McClurg will recruit 200 people with MS to identify if abdominal massage is more effective and in reducing the symptoms of NBD than not doing abdominal massage, splitting patients into two groups.

They will also identify and investigate the adequacy of the abdominal massage training DVD and the adherence to undertaking the massage.

Over six weeks, home massage will be recommended as part of their usual bowel care programme, and weekly telephone calls will be made by the researcher to discuss the massage and bowel care.

Dr McClurg says: “Bladder and bowel problems in patients are often not addressed due to embarrassment of the patient and clinicians. This is an intervention which is simple and can be undertaken by the person themselves or a carer. The project will also raise the profile of such issues and help that is available.”

Dr McClurg is also contributing to a £1m medical trial which is testing the efficacy of a prophylactic daily antibiotic for urinary infections among patients with bladder muscle weakness or nerve disease and a HTA funded programme grant of £2m around the feasibility of using a mixed package of single and multi-use intermittent catheters.



Glasgow Caledonian University: ‘GCU intervention to help people with MS’