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Group interventions for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis caregivers in Ireland: a randomised controlled trial protocol
  1. Tom Burke1,2,
  2. Jennifer Wilson O'Raghallaigh1,
  3. Sinead Maguire3,
  4. Miriam Galvin2,
  5. Mark Heverin2,
  6. Orla Hardiman2,3,
  7. Niall Pender1,2
  1. 1 Department of Psychology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2 Academic Unit of Neurology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, University of Dublin Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3 Department of Neurology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tom Burke, Department of Psychology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland; burket2{at}


Introduction Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapid and fatal motor disease marked by progressive physical impairment due to muscle weakness and wasting. It is multidimensional with many patients presenting with cognitive and/or behavioural impairment. Caregivers of patients with ALS, commonly non-paid immediate family members, often take primary responsibility for the complex care needs of patients in non-medicalised setting, and many as a consequence experience caregiver burden, anxiety, and/or depression.

Methods and analysis This randomised controlled trial (RCT) will use randomisation to allocate n=75 caregivers of patients with ALS from the national ALS clinic into three groups with an equal distribution. The RCT consists of two intervention groups and a wait list control (treatment as usual [TAU]) group. The intervention arms of the trial consist of a ‘mindfulness-based stress reduction’ and ‘building better caregivers’ manualised group-based intervention, with 9 and 6 weekly sessions, respectively. The TAU group will have access to intervention at the end of the trial period. Primary outcomes are self-report questionnaires on anxiety and depression symptoms, with caregiver burden and quality of life considered secondary outcomes. Assessment will commence at baseline, immediately following the intervention period, and after a period of 12 weeks to assess the effectiveness and efficacy of participating in an intervention. Patient cognitive and behavioural data will also be considered. Means of treatment and control groups at Time 0 and 1 will be analysed using mixed model multivariate analysis of variance followed by analysis of variance, and treatment effect-sizes will be calculated. This RCT protocol is pre-results and has been registered with an international database resulting in an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials Number (ISRCTN53226941).

Ethics and dissemination Ethics approval was obtained from the Beaumont Hospital Medical Research Ethics Committee. Results of the main trial will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Caregiver Burden
  • Psychological Intervention
  • Group Intervention

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  • Contributors TB, JWO'R, OH and NP were involved in conception and trial design. TB, JWO'R, SM, MG, MH, OH and NP were involved in drafting of the article and critical revision of the article for important intellectual content. TB, JWO'R, SM, MG, MH, OH and NP were involved in final approval of the article.

  • Funding This research has been awarded funding by the ALS Association (ALSA;

  • Disclaimer The study funders had no role in conception, trial design or development of this protocol.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study has ethical approval from Beaumont Hospital’s Research Ethics Committee (REC REF: 18/33).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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