Impact of disease, cognitive and behavioural factors on caregiver outcome in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Tamlyn J Watermeyer, Richard G Brown, Katie C.L. Sidle, David J. Oliver, Christopher Allen, Joanna Karlsson, Cathy Ellis, Christopher E. Shaw, Ammar Al-Chalabi, Laura H. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Up to 50% of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) show mild to moderate cognitive-behavioural change alongside their progressive functional impairment. This study examines the relative impact of patients' disease symptoms, behavioural change and current executive function and social cognition abilities on psychosocial outcomes in spouse caregivers of people with ALS. Thirty-five spouse caregivers rated their own levels of depression and anxiety, subjective burden and marital satisfaction. Caregivers also rated their partner's everyday behaviour. The patients were assessed for disease severity and cognitive function, with composite scores derived for executive function and social cognition. Regression analyses revealed that caregiver burden was predicted by the severity of patients' limb involvement and behavioural problems. Depression was predicted by patients' limb involvement, while behavioural problems and patient age predicted caregiver anxiety. Current marital satisfaction was predicted by patient behavioural problems beyond the level of pre-illness marital satisfaction. In conclusion, the study highlights the potential impact of ALS patients' functional impairment and behavioural change on ALS caregivers' psychosocial functioning. Clinical communication with ALS families should emphasise both physical and psychological challenges presented by the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-23
Number of pages8
JournalAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration
Issue number5-6
Early online date22 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


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