A Trial of Dementia Caregiver Telephone Support

Jennifer Martindale-Adams, Linda O. Nichols, Robert Burns, Marshall J. Graney, Jeffrey Zuber


The purpose of this study was to determine if telephone support groups for dementia caregivers have an effect on bother with patient behaviours, burden, depression, and general well-being. The randomized controlled trial compared telephone support groups (15 groups of 5 or 6 caregivers) with control groups (print materials). Groups met 14 times over 1 year. The 1-hour sessions included content on education, coping skills, and support. Data were collected at baseline and at 6 and 12 months. The sample comprised 154 caregivers, 77 per arm, providing care to veterans with dementia or a veteran caregiver. Bother was found to differ significantly at baseline. There were no significant treatment effect differences between study arms. Participants anecdotally reported improvement. It was concluded that telephone support groups are an efficient way to interact with caregivers. Further research should test different models of care. Interventions that are targeted to specific needs or occur frequently may provide better support for caregivers of individuals with a worsening condition.

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