Predictors of self-perceived health worsening over COVID-19 emergency in ALS

Neurol Sci. 2021 Apr;42(4):1231-1236. doi: 10.1007/s10072-020-04997-z. Epub 2021 Jan 14.


Introduction: Factors influencing self-perceived health status over Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency in vulnerable populations, such as patients with chronic neurological diseases, are still unknown. In this work, we aimed at testing whether clinical care changes imposed by the quarantine, together with certain demographic and disease-specific features, might have determined a self-perceived worsening of health status in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Methods: A brief web-based questionnaire investigating self-perceived anxiety, depression, and motor worsening, as well as clinical care changes over COVID-19 emergency, was administered to ALS patients currently followed at San Martino Hospital. Ordinal and logistic regression analyses were applied to identify significant predictors of health status.

Results: Fifty-seven ALS patients completed the questionnaire. A total of 35.08% of cases reported anxiety symptoms, 36.84% depressive symptoms, and 35.08% reported worsening of motor symptoms. Significant predictors of anxiety symptoms severity included female gender, greater motor impairment, more aggressive disease course, and rehabilitation therapy suspension. The only significant predictor of depressive symptoms severity was a more aggressive disease course. Significant predictors of motor worsening were shorter disease duration and exams/visits cancelation.

Discussion: COVID-19 emergency and its management exerted a significant impact on self-perceived health status in patients with ALS, particularly in those cases in the earliest disease phases and with a more aggressive disease course. These findings have potential to improve personalized medicine strategies in the next phase.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Anxiety; Corona virus disease 2019; Depression; Motor worsening.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / complications*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / psychology
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • COVID-19*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Quarantine
  • Self Concept*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires