From first symptoms to diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Perspectives of an Irish informal caregiver cohort - A thematic analysis
Item Type:Journal Article
Citation:Galvin, M., Gaffney, R., Corr, B., Mays, I. & Hardiman, O., From first symptoms to diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Perspectives of an Irish informal caregiver cohort - A thematic analysis, BMJ Open, 7, 3, 2017
e014985.full.pdf (PDF) 919.0Kb
Objectives: Informal caregivers play an integral part in the management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The objective of this study was to explore the journey from first problem symptoms to diagnosis from the perspective of informal caregivers providing care to people with ALS. Design: As part of a semistructured interview, information was collected on a range of caregiver demographic details, and from an open-ended question their experiences of the time of symptom onset to diagnosis. We carried out descriptive statistical analysis and thematic analysis of qualitative data. Setting and participants: Home interviews with informal caregivers (n=74) of people with ALS attending the National ALS/Motor Neuron Disease Clinic at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland. Results: This was a largely female and spousal cohort of caregivers, living with the patient for whom they provided informal care. The majority of patients were men and were spinal onset. Caregivers described the time from first symptoms to diagnosis. Using a primarily inductive approach, the coding was data driven and the codes and themes derived from the content of these descriptions. Two main themes were identified (1) problem signs and symptoms (A) noticing and (B) reaction; (2) interaction with the health services. Conclusions: Exploring the perspectives of caregivers from first problem symptoms to diagnosis provides valuable insights into the development of the condition, impediments to its recognition, help-seeking behaviours and interactions with healthcare services. The journey from early symptoms to diagnosis is important for future decision-making, affects readiness for caregiving and could negatively impact on caregiver health and well-being. The early acknowledgement by healthcare professionals of stressors along the journey to diagnosis, and appreciation of their possible impact on caregivers is important. The separate needs of caregivers should be assessed on a regular basis.
Type of material:Journal Article
Series/Report no:BMJ Open;
Availability:Full text available