Impact of the covid-19 pandemic on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis care in the UK

Lucy S. Musson, Alexis Collins, Sarah Opie-Martin, Andrea Bredin, Esther V. Hobson, Emily Barkhouse, Mark C. Coulson, Theocharis Stavroulakis, Rebecca L. Gould, Ammar Al-Chalabi, Christopher J. McDermott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted healthcare. Our aim was to identify how amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) care in the UK has been affected by the pandemic by exploring the experiences of people living with ALS (plwALS), healthcare professionals (HCPs) working with plwALS, and ALS care centers. Three surveys were carried out to explore the experiences of plwALS, HCPs and ALS care centers during the pandemic. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics and triangulated with the qualitative data which were analyzed thematically. Responses from 53 plwALS, 73 HCPs and 23 ALS care centers were analyzed. Five main themes were identified: keeping safe, losses, negative emotions, delivering care and alternative care delivery in a pandemic. PlwALS and HCPs felt that care was sub-optimal as a result of the pandemic. Changes to care included longer waiting times and face-to-face appointments being canceled or replaced by virtual consultations. While benefits of virtual consultations were reported, concerns were raised about incomplete clinical assessments and the disruption of provision of testing and interventions. ALS care has changed as a result of the pandemic. Patients have had a lack of face-to-face contact with HCPs and have experienced delays to investigations and treatments. PlwALS and HCPs were concerned about the impact of this change, but the long-term implications remain unclear. We propose recommendations for HCPs caring for plwALS, that will promote continuity of evidenced based care in the context of a pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration
Early online date22 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Covid-19
  • healthcare services
  • motor neuron disease
  • thematic analysis

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