Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Group interventions for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.....pdf (533 kB)

Group interventions for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis caregivers in Ireland: a randomised controlled trial protocol

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posted on 2022-12-20, 16:38 authored by Tom Burke, Jennifer Wilson O'RaghallaighJennifer Wilson O'Raghallaigh, Sinead Maguire, Miriam Galvin, Mark Heverin, Orla Hardiman, Niall PenderNiall Pender

Introduction: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapid and fatal motor disease marked by progressive physical impairment due to muscle weakness and wasting. It is multidimensional with many patients presenting with cognitive and/or behavioural impairment. Caregivers of patients with ALS, commonly non-paid immediate family members, often take primary responsibility for the complex care needs of patients in non-medicalised setting, and many as a consequence experience caregiver burden, anxiety, and/or depression.

Methods and analysis: This randomised controlled trial (RCT) will use randomisation to allocate n=75 caregivers of patients with ALS from the national ALS clinic into three groups with an equal distribution. The RCT consists of two intervention groups and a wait list control (treatment as usual [TAU]) group. The intervention arms of the trial consist of a 'mindfulness-based stress reduction' and 'building better caregivers' manualised group-based intervention, with 9 and 6 weekly sessions, respectively. The TAU group will have access to intervention at the end of the trial period. Primary outcomes are self-report questionnaires on anxiety and depression symptoms, with caregiver burden and quality of life considered secondary outcomes. Assessment will commence at baseline, immediately following the intervention period, and after a period of 12 weeks to assess the effectiveness and efficacy of participating in an intervention. Patient cognitive and behavioural data will also be considered. Means of treatment and control groups at Time 0 and 1 will be analysed using mixed model multivariate analysis of variance followed by analysis of variance, and treatment effect-sizes will be calculated. This RCT protocol is pre-results and has been registered with an international database resulting in an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials Number (ISRCTN53226941).

Ethics and dissemination: Ethics approval was obtained from the Beaumont Hospital Medical Research Ethics Committee. Results of the main trial will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.


ALS Association (ALSA;



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Published Citation

Burke T. et al. Group interventions for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis caregivers in Ireland: a randomised controlled trial protocol. BMJ Open. 2019;9(9):e030684.

Publication Date

20 September 2019

PubMed ID



  • Beaumont Hospital
  • Health Psychology
  • Psychiatry


BMJ Publishing Group Ltd


  • Published Version (Version of Record)