Objective: To assess patients Quality of life (QoL) and the burden of their caregivers during Covid-19 pandemic and specifically the impact of two-month lockdown period .
Methods: In April 2020, a total of 60 patients and 59 caregivers were administered by phone scales assessing patients' QoL (McGill QoL Questionnaire), general health status (EQ-5D-5L), and caregiver burden (Zarit Burden Interview). The administration was repeated one month after the end of lockdown measures, with the addition of a qualitative questionnaire (COVID-QoL Questionnaire) exploring family reorganization and personal perception of lock down .
Results: QoL and perceived health status did not worsen during lockdown, while caregiver burden increased (p = 0.01). Patient's QoL and caregiver burden were inversely correlated at T1 (ZBI total score mildly correlated with Mc Gill existential subscore, p = 0.02, rho = 0.30 and with Mc Gill total score, p = 0.05, rho = 0.265). No significant correlations were found at T2 . According to the COVID-QoL questionnaire, caregivers perceived lower family help compared to patients (p <0.001).
Conclusions: Restricted measures of lockdown period during COVID-19 pandemic did not result in a significant reduction of QoL in our cohort of ALS patients, while caregiver burden significantly increased . ALS motor impairment may have played a role in the unchanged life conditions of patients . Instead, the restriction of family help for primary caregivers could be responsible of their increased burden, reflecting the importance of a wide social support in the management of this clinical condition.