Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

First Advisor

Stephanie Felgoise, Ph.D., ABPP, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Barbara Golden, Psy.D., ABPP

Third Advisor

Zachary Simmons, M.D.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive and ultimately fatal neurological disease that interferes with the normative functions of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Depression has been found across disease stages in some ALS patients, but not all. Investigations that examined the association between physical functioning and depression in ALS patients produced mixed findings. To date, the role of social problem solving has not yet been explored in the ALS population. Thus, the current study examined the relationship between social problem solving, physical functioning, and depression in ALS patients. A total of 71 ALS patients participated in the study. The ALS patients were administered the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale-Revise, Manual Muscle Test, Brief Symptom Inventory 18, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depressed Mood Scale, and the Social Problem-Solving Inventory - Revised Short. Data were analyzed using two separate correlations and one multiple regression. Results from the current study concluded: (a) clinically significant levels of depression were found in 15 - 32.3% of the ALS subjects, (b) there was a positive correlation between poor social problem solving skills and depression, (c) there was a small correlation between poor physical functioning and depression, (d) bulbar functioning was not correlated with depression, and (e) negative problem orientation predicted 26.8% of the total variance for depression. Overall, the results from this investigation demonstrated negative problem orientation not physical function was a predictor of higher levels of depression in ALS patients. The implication from this study suggests that empirically supported treatment approaches such as problem-solving therapy may reduce depression in ALS patients.