Methods. A pre-experimental, posttest only design assessed the impact of using WebEx technology to increase knowledge and awareness about MS and available resources to a University/Charlotte community. WebEx is an on-line video conferencing technology used to conduct on-line meetings/webinars. Participants viewed a 2019 documentary film, “When We Walk,” about a filmmaker’s personal experience with primary progressive MS, followed by a 30 minute virtual panel discussion (persons living with MS, a NMSS MS Navigator Program representative, UNC Charlotte ADA Coordinator, Physician Assistant/MSW provider). Participants posted questions in the chat function during the event. Nineteen of the 29 participants (65.5%) completed a confidential 24-item post-event electronic survey (via Qualtrics). The majority of participants were female (n=17; 89.47%) and between the ages of 45 to 64 years old (n=13; 68.52%). Participants included 3 persons of color (Hispanic/Latino; Black/African American; African) (16.66%), 14 Caucasians (77.78%), and 1 other ethnicity (5.56%). Participants were highly educated: trade/technical/vocational training (n=1), Associates degree (n=1), Bachelor's degree (n=6), Master’s degree (n=6), Doctoral or Professional degree (n=5).
Results. The findings reveal that 94.74% (n=18) participants “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that “participation in the MS documentary screening and panel discussion increased my knowledge of MS and its related symptomatology”. Eighteen participants (94.74%) “agreed” or “strongly agreed” “participation in the MS film screening and panel discussion increased my knowledge of available resources at UNC Charlotte and the surrounding area”. All participants “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that “the virtual event met my expectations”. Seventeen participants (94.44%) rated the “When We Walk” film screening and panel experience as “excellent.”
Implications. The findings demonstrate WebEx is an effective technology as is the use of documentary film and panel discussion to increase participant knowledge and awareness of MS and resources notably during the COVID-19 pandemic to promote inclusivity of various populations. Further community outreach efforts are needed to bring more MS education and resource awareness and ZOOM pop-up events to racial and ethnic minority populations, family members, and social workers. In an effort to achieve this goal the PI received funds to develop a MS 10 module training intervention with 8 students about MS and offering regular 30 minute ZOOM “MS Talks” pop-up events free to the general public to help them learn about MS and resources. Notably, social workers in the academy with expertise about MS is very limited and further educational efforts to change status is needed.