Date of Submission

2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Stephanie H Felgoise, PhD, ABPP, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Robert DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

Third Advisor

Dr Zachary Simmons

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the self-perceived QOL in ALS patients. Literature will be presented on the incidence, prevalence, prognosis, diagnosis and management of ALS, QOL studies for ALS, the role of the multidisciplinary team, the impairments and dysfunction that ALS patients experience, communication issues, and the development of ALS specific instruments to measure QOL. The "bulbar dysfunction" that ALS patients experience in salivation management, speech, and swallowing were examined in detail. The objectives of this research study were to investigate the following hypotheses: 1. QOL will differ among ALS patients with varying levels of speech, swallowing, and salivation functioning, 2. Patients with less impairment in these aspects of physical functioning will report better QOL. Archival data was obtained from a validation study for the ALSSQOL instrument that employed 7 university-based ALS centers. ANOVA revealed that self-reported QOL varied
Communication & QOL in ALS according to level of functioning for speech F (4,333) 5.13, p =.001; swallowing F(4, 333)= 6.88, p=.OOO; and salivation, F(4,333)= 3.75, p =.000. This research is important because it showed that QOL
is adversely affected by impaired communication abilities. Having this knowledge will allow mental health providers to tailor time-sensitive interventions more appropriately, perhaps enhancing ALS patients' QOL. Areas of future consideration include utilization of the ALSSQOL for longitudinal studies and for investigation of ALS patients' mindsets as they prepare to experience each of the transitions during this predictable disease process.