Effect of meeting centres support program on feelings of competence of family carers and delay of institutionalization of people with dementia

R.M. Droës, E. Breebaart, F.J.M. Meiland, W. van Tilburg, G.J. Mellenbergh

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The study tested the hypotheses that integrated support, in which patients and carers are both supported by one professional staff member, will be more effective in reducing the feelings of (over)burden of carers and in positively influencing some potential determinants of experienced burden than non-integrated support, such as psychogeriatric day-care. A quasi-experimental pre-test/post-test control group design was applied with matched groups and measurements at baseline and after seven months. Fifty-five of the eighty dyads (31% dropped out) of persons with mild-to-moderate dementia and their carers who presented for four community meeting centres and three day-care centres in nursing homes over an 18 month period, were included in the study. The carers in the Meeting Centres Support (MCS) Program participated in an integrated family support program together with the persons with dementia, while the carers in the control group only received respite through psychogeriatric day-care. Standardized questionnaires were applied to measure some indicators of burden experienced by the carers (feelings of stress, life dissatisfaction, psychological and psychosomatic complaints), as well as some potential determinants of experienced burden (feeling of competence, coping strategies, experienced support and loneliness). Furthermore, as an indicator of feelings of (over)burden of the carer, the time between start of participation in one of the programs and institutionalization in a nursing home was calculated. After seven months the carers in the MCS group (n = 36), compared to the carers in regular psychogeriatric day-care (n = 19), showed a moderate positive effect on the feeling of competence (effect size 0.45). No effect was found on feelings of stress, dissatisfaction or psychological and psychosomatic complaints. However, as compared to the control group in regular day-care, the persons with dementia in the MCS Program participated for a longer period of time before they were placed in a nursing home. The MCS Program proved more effective than psychogeriatric day-care in influencing the feeling of competence of the carers, and seems to lead to an increased delay of nursing home placement of the person with dementia, as compared to regular day-care. Because of the small sample and limited power of the study, and the possible influence of the selection of carers on the study outcome, further research into the value of meeting centres for carers of people with dementia is recommended.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)201-211
Number of pages11
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2004

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