Dietary interventions including consumption of flavonoids, plant compounds found in certain foods, may have the ability to improve fatigue. However, to date, no well-designed intervention studies assessing the role of flavonoid consumption for fatigue management in people with MS (pwMS) have been performed. The hypothesis is that the consumption of a flavonoid-rich pure cocoa beverage will reduce fatigue in pwMS. The aim of this study is to determine the feasibility and potential outcome of running a trial to evaluate this hypothesis.
Using a randomised (1:1) double-blind placebo-controlled feasibility study, 40 men and women (20 in each trial arm) with a recent diagnosis (< 10 years) of relapsing and remitting MS (RRMS) and who are over 18 years of age will be recruited from neurology clinics and throughout the Thames Valley community. During a 6-week nutrition intervention period, participants will consume the cocoa beverage, high flavonoid or low flavonoid content, at breakfast daily. At baseline, demographic factors and disease-related factors will be assessed. Fatigue, activity and quality of life, in addition to other measures, will be taken at three visits (baseline, week 3 and week 6) in a university setting by a researcher blinded to group membership. Feasibility and fidelity will be assessed through recruitment and retention, adherence and a quantitative process evaluation at the end of the trial.We will describe demographic factors (age, gender, level of education) as well as disease-related factors (disease burden scores, length of time diagnosed with MS) and cognitive assessment, depression and quality of life and general physical activity in order to characterise participants and determine possible mediators to identify the processes by which the intervention may bring about change. Feasibility (recruitment, safety, feasibility of implementation of the intervention and evaluation, protocol adherence and data completion) and potential for benefit (estimates of effect size and variability) will be determined to inform future planned studies. Results will be presented using point estimates, 95% confidence intervals and p values. Primary statistical analysis will be on an intention-to-treat basis and will use the complete case data set.
We propose that a flavonoid-enriched cocoa beverage for the management of fatigue will be well received by participants. Further, if it is implemented early in the disease course of people diagnosed with RRMS, it will improve mobility and functioning by modifying fatigue.
Registered with ISRCTN Registry. Trial registration No: ISRCTN69897291; Date April 2016.