OBJECTIVE: This is an observational study on well-being and end-of-life preferences in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the locked-in state (LIS) in a Polish sample within the EU Joint Programme-Neurodegenerative Disease Research study NEEDSinALS (NEEDSinALS.com).
METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, patients with ALS in LIS (n = 19) were interviewed on well-being (quality of life, depression) as a measure of psychosocial adaptation, coping mechanisms, and preferences towards life-sustaining treatments (ventilation, percutaneous endoscopic gastroscopy) and hastened death. Also, clinical data were recorded (ALS Functional Rating Scale-revised version). Standardized questionnaires (Anamnestic Comparative Self-Assessment [ACSA], Schedule for the Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life-Direct Weighting (SEIQoL-DW), ALS Depression Inventory-12 items [ADI-12], schedule of attitudes toward hastened death [SAHD], Motor Neuron Disease Coping Scale) were used, which were digitally transcribed; answers were provided via eye-tracking control. In addition, caregivers were asked to judge patients' well-being.
RESULTS: The majority of patients had an ACSA score >0 and a SEIQoL score >50% (indicating positive quality of life) and ADI-12 <29 (indicating no clinically relevant depression). Physical function did not reflect subjective well-being; even more, those with no residual physical function had a positive well-being. All patients would again choose the life-sustaining techniques they currently used and their wish for hastened death was low (SAHD <10). Caregivers significantly underestimated patient's well-being.
INTERPRETATION: Some patients with ALS in LIS maintain a high sense of well-being despite severe physical restrictions. They are content with their life-sustaining treatments and have a strong will to live, which both may be underestimated by their families and public opinion.
Objective: Quantitative analysis of decision-making on therapeutic options in different sociocultural context in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Methods: ALS patients (n = 244) were consecutively recruited in Germany (n = 83), Poland (n = 83), and Sweden (n = 78) in a prospective cross-cultural study (www.NEEDSinALS.com). They were interviewed on preferences for therapeutic techniques including invasive (IV) and non-invasive ventilation (NIV), as well as percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) and on hypothetical termination of these using quantitative questions. Using standardized questionnaires, religiousness, personal values, quality of life, and depressiveness were assessed.
Results: NIV was most frequently used in Germany and PEG in Sweden. Swedish patients were most liberal on initiation and termination of PEG, NIV and IV. Polish patients were mostly undecided and were least likely to consider discontinuing supportive management. Current use was partly associated with age, gender and state of physical function; also, financial support explained some variance. Future preferences on therapeutic options from the patient’s perspective were also closely associated with cultural factors. The more oriented towards traditional and conservative values, the less likely patients were to decide for invasive therapeutic devices (IV, PEG), the least likely to have ideations to discontinue any device and the more likely to have an undecided attitude.
Conclusions: Current use of therapeutic options is determined by medical condition in analogy to clinical guidelines. For future considerations, other factors such as cultural background are crucial, yielding hurdles to be regarded in the implementation of advanced directives in a multicultural environment.