Anna Yahner

Year of Publication


Date of Thesis


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy

Subject Categories

Occupational therapy


Caregivers for individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) face unique challenges due to the rapid progression of the care recipient's disease. Current literature describes the benefits of support groups as effective interventions for caregivers for individuals with many illnesses and disabilities, but few address support group interventions specifically for caregivers of individuals with ALS. Addressing caregiver needs is within the occupational therapy domain of practice, but there is currently no occupational therapy literature on this topic. The purpose of this study was to identify the salient characteristics of caregivers for individuals with ALS and the support groups they attend, and explore the potential role for occupational therapist-led support groups to fulfill unmet needs. A researcher-designed caregiver survey and two standardized scales were distributed to caregivers in the northeastern United States. Results from 22 returned caregiver surveys indicated that support group attendance is inversely related to depression among study participants, and many unmet needs of caregivers were identified. All of the unmet needs are within the occupational therapy domain, indicating an opportunity for occupational therapists to lead support groups for this population. Recommendations for further research are discussed.



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