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The DWQ-EMR Embedded Tool to Enhance the Family Physician-Caregiver Connection: A Pilot Case Study

Background: The number of family caregivers to individuals with dementia is increasing. Family physicians are often the first point of access to the health care system for individuals with dementia and their caregivers. Caregivers are at an increased risk of developing negative physical, cognitive and affective health problems themselves. Caregivers also describe having unmet needs to help them sustain care in the community. Family physicians are in a unique position to help support caregivers and individuals with dementia, but often struggle with keeping up with best practice dementia service knowledge. Methods: The Dementia Wellness Questionnaire was designed to serve as a starting point for discussions between caregivers and family physicians by empowering caregivers to communicate their needs and concerns and to enhance family physicians’ access to specific dementia support information. The DWQ aims to alert physicians of caregiver and patient needs. This pilot study aimed to explore the experiences of physicians and caregivers of people using the Questionnaire in two family medicine clinics in Ontario, Canada. Interviews with physicians and caregivers collected data on their experiences using the DWQ following a 10-month data gathering period. Data was analyzed using content analysis. Results: Results indicated that family physicians may have an improved efficacy in managing dementia by having dementia care case specific guidelines integrated within electronic medical records. By having time-efficient access to tailored supports, family physicians can better address the needs of the caregiver–patient dyad and help support family caregivers in their caregiving role. Caregivers expressed that the Questionnaire helped them remember concerns to bring up with physicians, in order to receive help in a more efficient manner.

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