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The aim of this study was to explore the support needs of Dutch informal caregivers of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 caregivers of ALS patients. Audio-taped interviews were transcribed and data were analyzed thematically.
A total of four global support needs emerged: “more personal time”, “assistance in applying for resources”, “counseling”, and “peer contact”. Despite their needs, caregivers are reluctant to apply for and accept support. They saw their own needs as secondary to the needs of the patients.
Significance of results
ALS seems to lead to an intensive caregiving situation with multiple needs emerging in a short period. This study offers targets for the development of supportive interventions. A proactive approach seems essential, acknowledging the importance of the role of the caregivers in the care process at an early stage, informing them about the risk of burden, monitoring their wellbeing, and repeatedly offering support opportunities. Using e-health may help tailor interventions to the caregivers’ support needs.
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