Online support for caregivers. Analysis of an Internet Alzheimer mailgroup

Comput Nurs. Jul-Aug 2000;18(4):168-76; quiz 177-9.

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease affects more than four million Americans and ranks as the fourth leading cause of death in adults. To deal with the stresses of constant caregiving, family members of patients with Alzheimer's disease are encouraged to participate in support groups. However, geographic and time constraints combined with lack of substitute caregivers may preclude attendance at traditional support groups. Internet-based groups offer caregivers the opportunity to interact with other caregivers for guidance, information, and encouragement. This project examines the content and themes of 532 messages posted on a public Alzheimer mailgroup during 20 days of 1998. Members used the mailgroup to find and proffer information, share experiences and opinions, and provide encouragement. By becoming aware of the potential advantages that online support groups offer to caregivers, nurses can encourage Alzheimer caregivers to use online groups as an empowering and practical adjunct to traditional caregiver support.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing*
  • Caregivers / education*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Information Services
  • Internet / organization & administration*
  • Online Systems / organization & administration*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Self-Help Groups / organization & administration*
  • Social Support