Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Community_Understanding MS_landing page


Understanding Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a free massive open online course (MOOC) that improves understanding and awareness of MS.

Members of the public will increase their knowledge of MS-related issues and improve their confidence communicating about MS. Those in the MS community will be empowered to create and contribute to personalised MS management plans.

The course is designed for anyone with an interest in MS including:

  • People living with MS, their families and carers
  • Medical and nursing professionals
  • Allied health professionals
  • Advocates, service delivery staff, support workers

The course consists of six modules addressing the areas of:

  1. Biology and Pathology
  2. Diagnosis and Symptoms
  3. Demographics and Introduction to Risk
  4. Risk Factors
  5. Disease Management and Support Strategies
  6. Living with MS

Understanding MS was developed by the Menzies Institute for Medical Research in partnership with the MS community, MS Plus and MS Australia and in collaboration with the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre.

A word from the academic lead



Understanding MS has achieved global reach, with more than 50,000 enrolments across 180 countries since 2019. The course has been the recipient of multiple international awards, voted the #1 course in 2019 and ranked in the top 10 'Best online courses of all time' in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 (Class Central).

Understanding MS has developed and validated a novel MS knowledge assessment scale and health literacy questionnaire. 97% of course completers are satisfied with the course, 98% rate the course as above average, 63% have applied the information they have learned, 44% report behaviour change, 65% report measurable change and 68% show improvement.

Understanding MS course completers show a significant improvement in their MS knowledge and health literacy and increased self-efficacy for people with MS.



Building a Successful Massive Open Online Course About Multiple Sclerosis

Development and psychometric properties of the Multiple Sclerosis Knowledge Assessment Scale

Evaluating course completion, appropriateness and burden in the Understanding Multiple Sclerosis massive open online course: a cohort study

Association between MS-related knowledge, health literacy, self-efficacy, resilience, and quality of life in a large cohort of MS community members

Evaluating the impact of the Understanding Multiple Sclerosis online course on participant MS knowledge, health literacy, resilience, self-efficacy, quality of life, and MS symptom severity

Self-reported behaviour change among multiple sclerosis community members and interested laypeople following participation in a free online course about multiple sclerosis

Confidence communicating about multiple sclerosis among enrolees in an online course

Healthcare utilisation and satisfaction among enrolees in an online course about multiple sclerosis

Healthcare utilisation and perceived healthcare accessibility and quality among people living with multiple sclerosis enrolled in an online course

An exploratory study regarding communication facilitators and barriers reported by a cohort of multiple sclerosis (MS) community members from the international massive open online course ‘Understanding MS’

Gains in multiple sclerosis knowledge following completion of the Understanding Multiple Sclerosis online course are maintained six months after course completion

Reasons for non-completion of a massive open online course about multiple sclerosis: A mixed methods study

Measurement Properties of the Health Literacy Questionnaire in the Understanding Multiple Sclerosis Massive Open Online Course Cohort: A Rasch Analysis

Funded by

MS Plus logoMSA_logo with taglineUniTas_MENZIES_V_Pos_Col_RGB@2x (1)MRFF logo_B

Funding for this initiative has been provided by MS Plus, MS Australia and the Australian government's Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)