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2008 HSR&D National Meeting Abstract

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National Meeting 2008

3002 — The Use of Telephone Support Groups to Increase Free Time for Dementia Caregivers

Nichols LO (VA Medical Center and University of Tennessee), Martindale-Adams JL (University of Tennessee), Burns R (Geriatrics Group of Memphis and University of Tennessee), Lummus LC (University of Tennessee), Graney MJ (VA Medical Center)

Objectives:
The CONNECT study (10/04-9/07) was a randomized clinical trial of telephone support groups vs. usual care for dementia caregivers, who are either veterans receiving care at the Memphis VAMC or providing care to such a veteran. The focus of the study was on education, safety, managing behavioral problems of dementia care recipients, and caregiver stress and coping. One study goal was to examine the intervention's effect on caregivers' free time.

Methods:
There were 15 year-long support groups of one trained group leader and 5 to 6 caregivers. Each support group met 14 times. The one hour calls were semi-structured conference calls with education, coping skills and cognitive restructuring, and support components. A Caregiver Notebook with information on each topic provided materials for the educational sessions. Data were collected in the home and included time spent providing actual care to the care recipient.

Results:
The study group consisted of 154 African-American/Black (29%) and Caucasian/White (71%) caregivers; 16% were male. Nearly all the intervention caregivers reported that the intervention enhanced their ability to care for their family member (n=98%). On average, from baseline, intervention caregivers reported 1.4 fewer hours of caregiving time per day compared to usual care caregivers who reported 1.5 hours more, a significant group by time interaction over one year (p = .025).

Implications:
The intervention was able to help caregivers decrease the time spent providing actual care.

Impacts:
One of the scarcest commodities for caregivers is time. This low technology, low staffing, group telephone intervention found stronger results than those found in the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregivers Health (REACH II) study, which used an individual, in home, face-to-face intervention.


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