Embedded Psychiatric Services in a Multidisciplinary Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Clinic: An Assessment of Patient Needs and Perceptions

Morgan Hardy, Caitlin Castle, Carlayne Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is often associated with a range of difficult neuropsychiatric symptoms and conditions, including depression, apathy, pseudobulbar affect, and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Despite the potential role for psychiatrists in the treatment of ALS, they are not typically involved in the ALS clinical team. The investigators describe a quality improvement intervention providing embedded psychiatric services within a multidisciplinary clinic (MDC). METHODS: A psychiatrist working within an ALS MDC evaluated patients (N=116) over a 1-year period. The clinic assessed the prevalence of neuropsychiatric symptoms and conditions in patients with ALS (depression, anxiety, pseudobulbar affect, and cognitive impairment, including FTD) using standardized screening methods. Fifty-five patients and 47 family members completed surveys about perceptions of their need for psychiatric care, their experience of meeting with a psychiatrist, and their desire for future access to psychiatric care. RESULTS: Prevalence rates for neuropsychiatric symptoms were 14.9% for depression, 11.3% for anxiety, 19% for cognitive impairment (including FTD, 8.6%), and 36.2% for pseudobulbar affect; 62.0% of patients were being prescribed at least one psychotropic medication. Both patients and family members reported that meeting with a psychiatrist was helpful, that the treatment provided was helpful, and that they would prefer continued availability of psychiatric services in the future. The presence of cognitive impairment and use of antidepressants increased the likelihood of patients reporting a benefit from psychiatric care. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with ALS report a benefit from increased access to psychiatric services. The inclusion of a psychiatrist within the ALS MDC model should be considered to improve quality of care for this patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Degenerative Muscle Diseases
  • Depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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