Identifying poor adaptation to a new diagnosis of motor neuron disease: A pilot study into the value of an early patient-led interview

Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2010;11(1-2):104-9. doi: 10.3109/17482960902829205.


This pilot study explored whether clinicians can identify patients who may not be coping with a diagnosis of MND early in the disease course by using patient-led interviews rather than psychological testing. Consecutive, newly diagnosed MND patients underwent a semi-structured interview six and 18 weeks after diagnosis, and completed SEIQoL-DW, ALSFRS-R, MND Coping Scale, MND Social Withdrawal Scale, SF 36 v2 and HAD. Three physicians independently used a list of factors from the literature associated with coping with a diagnosis of MND, and overall impression to assign patients from interview transcripts to groups of copers and non-copers. Ten of 13 recruited patients were categorized unanimously using the first interview alone. Four patients were categorized as non-copers. These showed significantly higher scores for depression, anxiety and social withdrawal and significantly lower scores for coping and mental composite scores on the SF 36 v2. Our pilot study suggests it is possible for experienced clinicians to identify patients who may struggle to cope with a diagnosis of MND early by patient-led interview alone. This provides some evidence for the therapeutic potential of the early follow-up appointment interview with a senior doctor soon after diagnosis, advocated by current British guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Neuron Disease / diagnosis*
  • Motor Neuron Disease / psychology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Isolation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires