10 May 2024 News

COMMEND study 3

Positive results of a study funded by the MND Association and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) show a particular type of psychological therapy - acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) - can improve quality of life for people with motor neurone disease (MND), given alongside usual care. 

In a direct response to the findings of the COMMEND study, conducted by researchers at the University of Sheffield and University College London (UCL), the MND Association is committing to facilitating ACT training for psychologists who work with people with MND. The study is the first of its kind to look at the impact a psychological intervention may have on a patient's quality of life. 

ACT is a form of psychological therapy that helps people to learn new ways of handling distressing thoughts and feelings. It also helps people to develop ways of taking part in activities that are important and meaningful to them.

We desperately need treatments to slow down and stop MND. In a year when several large drug trials have already reported negative results we are reminded what a huge and difficult challenge that is. While we work hard for a cure, it is essential we support those living with MND now. The COMMEND study shows that tailored psychological support can have a major impact on the quality of life of those people living with MND.

Professor Chris McDermott, Professor of Translational Neurology at the University of Sheffield, Honorary Consultant Neurologist and joint lead of the trial

In the absence of a cure for this devastating disease, interventions aimed at helping to improve the psychological wellbeing and quality of life of people living with MND are crucial. Poor quality of life and psychological distress are associated with numerous negative outcomes, including shorter survival and increased risk of suicide. Therefore, it is vital that we provide evidence-based interventions to help manage this. This study provides strong evidence that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can be a valuable tool for improving quality of life for the 5,000 people who are currently living with MND in the UK.

Professor Rebecca Gould, Professor of Psychological Therapies at UCL and Honorary Clinical Psychologist, Chief Investigator of the study and joint lead of the trial

We know many people with MND seek help to cope with the psychological impact of the disease but often this isn’t available or, if it is, not in a timely way. The COMMEND study shows psychological support can be effective in improving quality of life and that there is clear clinical benefit in Acceptance Commitment Therapy specifically. We are committed to taking forward these findings and to investing in ACT training so this type of psychological support can be offered within the standard care package to all those who may benefit from it.

Chris Bennett, Head of Regional Services and Partnerships at the MND Association

Read more about the trial in our MND research blog.