Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Who can take part?

To be eligible to take part in SWIMS, you should:

  • be aged 18 years or over.
  • reside in Devon or Cornwall 
  • have a clinical diagnosis of MS.

What can I do for the SWIMS project?


Provide information

Every six months, you will need to complete a SWIMS booklet. In these booklets, we ask participants about their: symptoms, contact with health professionals, relapses, and medication taken. The booklets also include a range of “rating scales” that measure different aspects of MS like fatigue and walking.

If participants come to clinic their neurologist may also record and share with SWIMS the person’s score on the “EDSS” – the neurologist’s view of how much MS has affected the person.


Join the UK MS Register

From 2018, SWIMS is being managed as a sub-study of the UK MS Register. People who join SWIMS also automatically join the Register.


How can I join?

To take part in SWIMS, you will need to read the Patient information Sheet and then complete an Informed Consent Form and Baseline Record Form. These can be downloaded below or sent out by the SWIMS team (see Contacts) who will also provide FREEPOST envelopes.

Further information

The South West Impact of Multiple Sclerosis (SWIMS) project is a longitudinal study following around 1,600 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) or clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) in Devon and Cornwall, providing new information about how MS changes over time.

The project began in Plymouth in 2004, with funding from the Peninsula Medical School Foundation and between 2008 and 2017 the MS Society kindly funded the continuation of SWIMS. Our major priority has always been recruitment and retention, in order to build up a unique longitudinal dataset to enable us to address our main research aims:

  • To understand the impact of MS from the perspective of people affected by MS
  • To find better ways of measuring outcomes in MS over time
  • To develop better methods to predict more accurately the future clinical course of the disease in any given person
  • To improve ways of measuring the cost-effectiveness of treatments for MS

Participants with MS complete questionnaire booklets twice per year. Patients with CIS who are subsequently diagnosed with MS are switched to the six-monthly MS data collection schedule.

In addition to the patient-completed questionnaires, the EDSS is assessed for some participants attending neurology outpatient clinics at the Plymouth neurology centres, but no specific clinic attendance is organised to evaluate clinical information.