Supporting family caregivers of persons with dementia: a pilot-study on the impact of a psycho-educational program
Author(s)Van Audenhove, Chantal; U0002440; ; ; ; ;
Van Vracem, Marieke; U0086629; ; ; ; ;
Declercq, Anja; U0003876; ; ; ; ;
Spruytte, Nele; U0013516; ; ; ; ;
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Objectives: This pilot-study is an evaluation of a psycho-educational program consisting of 11 group sessions for family caregivers of people with dementia. This program is inspired by similar Dutch and German interventions. The main goal of the program is to inform family caregivers of persons with dementia and to strengthen their coping strategies. The goals of the pilot-study are to investigate the impact for family caregivers, to evaluate content and conditions and to study the feasibility for the trainer. Method: One group of family caregivers (n=10) was purposefully recruited for this pilot-study. An experienced dementia trainer guided the group through the program during 14 weeks. A mixed method evaluation is used. Emotional impact is measured with a pretest-posttest questionnaire. Personal experiences are studied through individual interviews, diaries and a focus group interview of both participants and the trainer. Results: Preliminary results indicate that there is a huge need for programs like this one. Both family caregivers and the trainer highly appreciate the combination of information transfer and exchange of personal experiences. Keeping this balance right is a particular challenge for the trainer. The trainer needs some freedom and flexibility to adapt the program to the unique needs of the group. Family caregivers need practical advice and do not want too much theory. At baseline, screening indicates that they suffer from loneliness and symptoms of depression. We will be able to present which of the initial goals of the program are most met and whether the program can ameliorate the negative emotional experiences of participants. Conclusion: Family caregivers of persons with dementia often feel isolated and participation to a psycho-educational program can offer information, advice and emotional support. The results of this pilot-study will guide further implementation, including the development of e-learning modules and evaluation with a larger study sample.
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