A Web-Based Intervention to Help Caregivers of Older Adults With Dementia and Multiple Chronic Conditions: Qualitative Study
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BACKGROUND: Caregivers (ie, family members and friends) play a vital role in the ongoing care and well-being of community-living older persons with Alzheimer disease and related dementia in combination with multiple chronic conditions. However, they often do so to the detriment of their own physical, mental, and emotional health. Caregivers often experience multiple challenges in their caregiving roles and responsibilities. Recent evidence suggests that Web-based interventions have the potential to support caregivers by decreasing caregiver stress and burden. However, we know little about how Web-based supports help caregivers. OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this paper were to describe (1) how the use of a self-administered, psychosocial, supportive, Web-based Transition Toolkit, My Tools 4 Care (MT4C), designed by atmist, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, helped caregivers of older adults with Alzheimer disease and related dementia and multiple chronic conditions; (2) which features of MT4C caregivers found most and least beneficial; and (3) what changes would they would recommend making to MT4C. METHODS: This study was part of a larger multisite mixed-methods pragmatic randomized controlled trial. The qualitative portion of the study and the focus of this paper used a qualitative descriptive design. Data collectors conducted semistructured, open-ended, telephone interviews with study participants who were randomly allocated to use MT4C for 3 months. All interviews were audio-taped and ranged from 20 to 40 min. Interviews were conducted at 1 and 3 months following a baseline interview. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze collected data. RESULTS: Fifty-six caregivers from Alberta and Ontario, Canada, participated in either one or both of the follow-up interviews (89 interviews in total). Caregivers explained that using MT4C (1) encouraged reflection; (2) encouraged sharing of caregiving experiences; (3) provided a source of information and education; (4) provided affirmation; and for some participants (5) did not help. Caregivers also described features of MT4C that they found most and least beneficial and changes they would recommend making to MT4C. CONCLUSIONS: Study results indicate that a self-administered psychosocial supportive Web-based resource helps caregivers of community-dwelling older adults with Alzheimer disease and related dementia and multiple chronic conditions with their complex caregiving roles and responsibilities. The use of MT4C also helped caregivers in identifying supports for caring, caring for self, and planning for future caregiving roles and responsibilities. Caregivers shared important recommendations for future development of Web-based supports.
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