OBJECTIVES: Dementia is a major public health problem with important physical, psychosocial, emotional, and financial consequences for patients, their caregivers, and society. Since patients prefer to be managed at home, extensive research has been conducted into effectiveness of psychosocial interventions to support informal caregivers. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of an in-home respite care program.
METHODS: In a prospective quasi-experimental study, 99 dyads who received an in-home respite care program were compared at 6 months post-baseline, with 99 matched dyads receiving standard dementia care. Additionally, the short-term effect of the program was evaluated 14 to 15 days post-intervention. The primary outcome was caregiver burden. The secondary outcomes were: desire to institutionalize the patient, caregiver quality of life, and frequency and impact of behavioral problems. Mixed model analyses were performed to evaluate the impact of the intervention.
RESULTS: After 6 months, no significant difference on caregiver burden was observed, but intervention group caregivers had a significant lower desire to institutionalize the patient compared with control group caregivers (adj.diff = -0.51; p = .02). Shortly after the program, intervention group caregivers also had a significant lower role strain (adj.diff = 0.75; p = .05), and a lower burden on social and family life (adj.diff = 0.55; p = .05) compared with baseline.
CONCLUSIONS: This study was the first comparative study to investigate effectiveness of an in-home respite care program to support informal caregivers of persons with dementia. The results partly confirm earlier positive findings from explorative studies.