Scarce literature has been dedicated to the psychological treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, there have been some encouraging findings, such as in hypnosis-based studies, which revealed patient improvements in anxiety, depression and quality of life (QoL). We replicated such a design of a pragmatic study on empathy-based supportive counseling treatment in four weekly domiciliary sessions. Twenty-one people with ALS (pALS) consecutively attending the Motor Neuron Disease Center of Padova University were recruited to the study; in total, 21 pALS who did not undergo any kind of psychological treatment served as the control group. In the treatment group, depression, anxiety and QoL (measured respectively with the HADS-D, HADS-A and ALSSQOL-R) were assessed at pre- and post-treatment levels and at 3- and 6-month follow-ups. Statistical mixed-model regression analyses revealed that in the treated group, perceived conditions of anxiety, depression and QoL were significantly stable compared to worsening in the control patients. Interestingly, there were improvements in the QoL domains “Interaction”, “Emotion” and “Physical” at the 6-month follow-up. Overall, even if not directly comparable, our current results on support-based counseling, though interesting, seem not to reach the efficacy of a hypnosis-based study in which the observed dimensions were significantly improved with respect to the baseline. The implications of our results from a psychodynamic perspective are highlighted.
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- supportive treatment