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2006 Grant - Smyth
Using Personal Computers to Extend Impact of a Caregiving Intervention
Kathleen Smyth, Ph.D.
Case Western Reserve University
2006 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Studies have shown that stress associated with caring for persons with dementia has been linked to adverse effects on mental and physical health. A number of short-term interventions have been developed that ameliorate the negative impact of caregiving and enable a person to provide effective care. Few of these efforts, however, have developed cost-effective strategies to maintain or enhance the benefit of these interventions over time.
Kathleen Smyth, Ph.D., and colleagues have developed a two-stage intervention that may address this need. In the first stage, family caregivers will participate in a six-week workshop that has been tested in previous studies. The second stage will be a personal computer-based, follow-up intervention designed to (1) answer caregivers' emerging questions about dementia management, (2) facilitate links to online community resources to meet emerging needs and (3) coach caregivers in how to apply workshop skills and principles to novel situations arising after the workshop.
To evaluate the benefits of their new intervention, Dr. Smyth's team will assess the caregivers' stress levels at baseline and at three intervals thereafter. The team will assess whether the computer-based intervention sustains or enhances the benefits observed from previous studies of the workshop. Based on the outcome of their investigation, the researchers will refine the program for use in care service programs. This work may provide a model for developing programs that meet the long-term needs of caregivers.