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A pilot study of how information and communication technology may contribute to health promotion among elderly spousal carers in Norway

The objective of this pilot Norwegian intervention study was to explore whether use of information and communication technology (ICT) by informal carers of frail elderly people living at home would enable them to gain more knowledge about chronic illness, caring and coping, establish an informal support network and reduce stress and related mental health problems. Potential participants were close relatives of an elderly person with a diagnosis of a chronic illness dwelling in the same household who wished to continue caring for their relative at home, were 60 years of age or older, had been caring for less than 2 years, were a computer novice and had Norwegian as their first language. Nineteen elderly spousal carers participated in the study from two municipalities in eastern Norway. The project commenced in January 2004 and consisted of a multimethod evaluation model. Outcomes measured included carers’ social contacts (measured by the Family and Friendship Contacts scale); burden of care (measured by the Relative Stress scale); and knowledge about chronic disease and caring, stress and mental health and use of ICT (examined via a composite carer questionnaire). These quantitative data were collected immediately prior to the study and at 12 months. Qualitative data were also collected via focus group interviews with participant carers at 7 months. At follow-up, quantitative measures did not reveal any reduction in carer stress or mental health problems. However, carers reported extensive use of the ICT service, more social contacts and increased support and less need for information about chronic illness and caring. Contact with and support from other carers with similar experiences was particularly valued by participants. The intervention also enhanced contacts with family and friends outside the carer network. Thus, it can be seen that ICT has the potential to contribute to health promotion among elderly spousal carers.

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Additional Titles
Health & Social Care in the Community

Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
ISBN/ISSN
0966-0410
Resource Database
Cin20 cinahl - exported on 11/7/2016
Publication Year
2008
Issue Number
1
Volume Number
16
Start Page
75-85 11p