In 2015, California became the fourth state to legalize physician-assisted death by permitting terminally ill patients to end their lives with prescribed medications. ALS clinicians are striving to understand possible associations between the wish to die and cognitive, behavioral, or psychiatric changes, since ALS patients are up to 10 times more likely than cancer patients to request to end their lives. A recent study in 247 ALS patients, published August 5 in Neurology, found no association between desire to end life and behavioral or cognitive changes, based on questionnaires of psychiatric measures and the results of the Cognitive Behavioral Screen. Patients with behavioral deficits, but not cognitive impairment, were at highest risk of depression, suggesting the need for improvement management of these symptoms. The study was led by Hiroshi Mitsumoto of Columbia University Medical Center in NY and the ALS COSMOS (ALS Multicenter Cohort Study of Oxidative Stress) Study Group.
Click here to read the discussion in Neurology Today.
Rabkin J, Goetz R, Murphy JM, Factor-Litvak P, Mitsumoto H; ALS COSMOS Study Group. Cognitive impairment, behavioral impairment, depression, and wish to die in an ALS cohort. Neurology. Epub 2016 Aug 5. [Pubmed].