Bormann JE (VA San Diego Healthcare System), Warren K
(VA San Diego Healthcare System), Regalbuto L
(VA San Diego Healthcare System), Kelly A
(National University, San Diego, CA), McQuaid J
(VA San Diego Healthcare System, University of California San Diego)
Family caregivers of veterans with debilitating conditions such as dementia have difficulty utilizing caregiver programs because of their reluctance to leave care recipients or inability to afford respite care. The purpose of this study was to design, implement, and evaluate the feasibility of a family caregiver program delivered using group telephone-conference calls.
A prospective, mixed-methods, one-group by 3-time repeated measures design with 3-month follow-up phone interviews was used. The program had 3 face-to-face meetings (weeks 1, 8, 16), 6 hourly group teleconference calls (weeks 2-7) and 3 individual calls (weeks 10, 12, 14). It consisted of a spiritually-based mantram repetition practice and behavioral-cognitive action skills. Outcomes included Zarit Caregiver Burden, Perceived Stress, depression (CES-D), Rumination, Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction, Mindfulness Attention Awareness, Spielberger Trait-Anger and Client Satisfaction scales.
Twenty-one caregivers enrolled and 16 (76%) completed the study. Participants were 94% female, 94% Caucasian, 3% Hispanic/Latino and 3% Asian with mean age of 69 + 10.35. Three-quarters were spouses with an average of 4.0 + 2.92 years of care giving and 81% of care recipients had Alzheimer’s Disease. One caregiver lived 160 miles away. Significant effects for time and significant linear terms were found for decreasing Zarit Caregiver Burden (p =.017), Perceived Stress (p =.001), depression (CES-D) (p =.013), Rumination (p = .005), and for increasing Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction (p = .034) all with large effect sizes. No change was found in Mindfulness or Trait-Anger. Satisfaction was “high.” Interviews at 3-month follow-up indicated all (100%) participants reported mantram repetition skills “were helpful” and 14 (88%) participants reported the behavioral/action skills “were helpful.”
The program was feasible and teleconference calls improved access and participation. More efficacy research using larger samples and a control group is needed.
A teleconference-delivered family caregiver program could reach a larger number of caregivers and potentially reduce caregiver burden. The benefit to veterans is a greater likelihood of maintaining access to health care via their caregivers. This research was supported by a pilot grant from the VA Office of Nursing Service and the VA San Diego Healthcare System.