Background: The Society empowers people affected by MS to solve everyday challenges by informing and connecting them to what they need, when they need it so they can be more powerful than the challenges of MS. The Ask an MS Expert virtual program was hosted weekly and broadcast internationally via GoTo Webinar, Facebook, and YouTube provided such programming opportunities during a period of uncertainty.
Objectives: 1) Support people affected by MS with information, support, and connection opportunities to remain strong and resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic, 2) Provide a channel for people affected by MS to become more powerful than the challenges they face, 3) Support the MS community with weekly interactive educational programming, to help them live their best lives.
Methods: 26 Ask an Expert and 6 Spanish programs were hosted. Each program had a presentation on the topic of the day and an interactive question and answer session built from participant submissions and chat boxes from the various platforms. Post-program surveys were sent to webinar participants, with those viewing on other platforms provided an opportunity to complete the survey. The evaluation focused on both the outputs of this new program and the impact of accessing weekly and on-demand information.
Results: Over 8,000 live participants viewed the program on the three platforms, with over 663,000 on-demand views to date on Facebook and YouTube. 2,242 post-program surveys were completed by GoTo Webinar participants; 86% reported the information was clear and easy to understand, 80% felt more confident in addressing the challenges of MS, and 75% planned to take action based on something they learned. This virtual program provided coverage that exceeded planned in-person programming and facilitated engaging with participants in new territories.
Conclusions: The Ask an MS Expert program reached people affected by MS throughout the US and internationally. Participants provided input on future topics, keeping the program nimble and responsive to the needs of people living with MS. This thoughtful and engaging approach ensured that the expansive reach maintained educational program goals, with results indicating this program met or exceeded planned in-person learning program metrics. As the world continues to evolve, we will continue to adapt to meet the needs of all people living with MS, and work to remove barriers that prevent access to information, connections, and people.