Acceptance and Commitment Therapy plus usual care for improving quality of life in people with motor neuron disease (COMMEND): a multicentre, parallel, randomised controlled trial in the UK

Rebecca Gould, Christopher McDermott, Benjamin Thompson, Charlotte Rawlinson, Matt Bursnall, Mike Bradburn, Pavithra Kumar, Emily Turton, David A White, Marc A. Serfaty, Christopher D. Graham, Lance M. McCracken, Laura Goldstein, Ammar Al-Chalabi, Richard W. Orrell, Tim L. Williams, Rupert Noad, Idris Baker, Christina Faull, Thomas LambertSuresh K. Chhetri, John Ealing, Anthony Hanratty, Aleksandar Radunovic, Nushan Gunawardana, Gail Meadows, George H Gorrie, Tracey Young, Vanessa Lawrence, Cindy Cooper, Pamela Shaw, Robert Howard

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Abstract

Background
Motor neuron disease is a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disease for which there is no cure. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a psychological therapy incorporating acceptance, mindfulness, and behaviour change techniques. We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of ACT plus usual care, compared with usual care alone, for improving quality of life in people with motor neuron disease.
Methods
We conducted a parallel, multicentre, two-arm randomised controlled trial in 16 UK motor neuron disease care centres or clinics. Eligible participants were aged 18 years or older with a diagnosis of definite or laboratory-supported probable, clinically probable, or possible familial or sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; progressive muscular atrophy; or primary lateral sclerosis; which met the World Federation of Neurology's El Escorial diagnostic criteria. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive up to eight sessions of ACT adapted for people with motor neuron disease plus usual care or usual care alone by a web-based system, stratified by site. Participants were followed up at 6 months and 9 months post-randomisation. Outcome assessors and trial statisticians were masked to treatment allocation. The primary outcome was quality of life using the McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire-Revised (MQOL-R) at 6 months post-randomisation. Primary analyses were multi-level modelling and modified intention to treat among participants with available data. This trial was pre-registered with the ISRCTN Registry (ISRCTN12655391).
Findings
Between Sept 18, 2019, and Aug 31, 2022, 435 people with motor neuron disease were approached for the study, of whom 206 (47%) were assessed for eligibility, and 191 were recruited. 97 (51%) participants were randomly assigned to ACT plus usual care and 94 (49%) were assigned to usual care alone. 80 (42%) of 191 participants were female and 111 (58%) were male, and the mean age was 63·1 years (SD 11·0). 155 (81%) participants had primary outcome data at 6 months post-randomisation. After controlling for baseline scores, age, sex, and therapist clustering, ACT plus usual care was superior to usual care alone for quality of life at 6 months (adjusted mean difference on the MQOL-R of 0·66 [95% CI 0·22–1·10]; d=0·46 [0·16–0·77]; p=0·0031). Moderate effect sizes were clinically meaningful. 75 adverse events were reported, 38 of which were serious, but no adverse events were deemed to be associated with the intervention.
Interpretation
ACT plus usual care is clinically effective for maintaining or improving quality of life in people with motor neuron disease. As further evidence emerges confirming these findings, health-care providers should consider how access to ACT, adapted for the specific needs of people with motor neuron disease, could be provided within motor neuron disease clinical services.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Lancet
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2024

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