Fear, fight, familiarize: The experiences of people living with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and taking oral medication

E. Van Reenen*, W. Van Der Borg, M. Visse, H. van der Meide, L. Visser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review



In addition to becoming familiar with the life changing event of having a chronic illness and exploring its meaning in daily life, people with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) are faced with important decisions about immunomodulating treatment. Biomedical research on the use of Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs) mostly focuses on adherence, conceptualized and understood as a behavioral act leading to a desired outcome. Less attention has been paid to the meaning for a person with RRMS of starting and continuing the use of DMTs. Studies on the experiences of people with RRMS taking orally administered DMTs are lacking. The aim of this phenomenological study was to examine the experiences of people with RRMS taking oral medication. 


The study was guided by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and Phenomenology of Practice. 25 persons with RRMS participated in in-depth interviews. 


In general, participants of this study find themselves in alternating phases that vary by degree of experienced unfamiliarity or familiarity with concern to one's illness, one's changing body, and one's new life. The meaning of taking medication is closely related to these phases. 


Adherence serves a purpose in the lifeworlds of participants. Medication is the embodiment of this purpose. The pill has inherent meaning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1648946
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • disease modifying treatment
  • oral medication
  • qualitative
  • phenomenology
  • SELF
  • CARE

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