Objectives: This study examined the differential impact of two telehealth programs for women caring for an older adult with a neurocognitive disorder. Outcomes examined were depressive symptoms, upset following disruptive behaviors, anxious and angry mood states, and caregiving self-efficacy.
Methods: Women cohabitating with a family member diagnosed with a neurocognitive disorder were assigned via random allocation to either of the following: (1) a 14-week behavioral intervention using video instructional materials, workbook and telephone coaching in behavioral management, pleasant events scheduling, and relaxation or (2) a basic education guide and telephone support comparison condition. Telephone assessments were conducted by interviewers blind to treatment condition at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and 6 months following intervention.
Results: For those providing in-home care at post-treatment, depressive symptoms, upset following disruptive behaviors, and negative mood states were statistically lower in the behavioral coaching condition than in the basic education and support condition. Reliable change index analyses for Beck Depression Inventory II scores favored the behavioral coaching condition. Caregiving self-efficacy scores for obtaining respite and for managing patient behavioral disturbances were significantly higher in the coaching condition. Effect sizes were moderate but not maintained at the 6-month follow-up.
Conclusions: This study provides some initial evidence for the efficacy of a telehealth behavioral coaching intervention compared with basic education and telephone support. Carers' abilities to maintain strategy use during progressive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease likely require longer intervention contact than provided in the current study. Dementia carers, including those living in rural areas, can benefit from accessible and empirically supported interventions that can be easily disseminated across distances at modest cost. © 2015 The Authors. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.