Coping strategies and psychological distress in caregivers of patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Mattia Siciliano, Gabriella Santangelo, Francesca Trojsi, Carmela Di Somma, Manila Patrone, Cinzia Femiano, Maria Rosaria Monsurrò, Luigi Trojano, Gioacchino Tedeschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) causes distress in caregivers. The present study aims to examine the association between coping strategies and psychological distress in caregivers of ALS patients. Methods: Coping strategies were assessed in 96 ALS informal caregivers by means of the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations. Data about caregivers’ demographic characteristics, levels of burden, depression and anxiety (psychological distress) were also gathered by standardised questionnaires. Patients’ clinical, cognitive and behavioural disturbances were evaluated by ALS specific assessment tools. Results: Sequential logistic regression analysis showed that emotion-oriented coping strategy was significantly associated with high levels of depressive (p < 0.01) and anxiety (p < 0.05) symptoms and high levels of burden (p < 0.05), after controlling for all other variables. Moreover, a significant relationship of patients’ functional dependence levels with burden experienced by caregivers was observed. No relationships were detected between task-oriented and avoidance-oriented coping strategies and caregivers’ levels of psychological distress. Conclusions: The present study supported the mediating effects of coping strategies on intensity of burden, depression and anxiety experienced by ALS caregivers. These findings suggest that interventions aimed at reducing utilisation of maladaptive coping strategies may improve well-being in ALS caregivers, and, possibly, management of symptoms in ALS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. coping strategies
  • caregiver burden
  • ECAS
  • Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioural ALS Screen
  • psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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