Integrating theory, basic research, and intervention: two case studies from caregiving research

Gerontologist. 2003 Mar:43 Spec No 1:19-28. doi: 10.1093/geront/43.suppl_1.19.


Purpose: The premise of this article is that interventions should be based explicitly on theory and basic research findings. Although there appears to be general agreement with that assertion, the connections among theory, research, and intervention in the field of gerontology are often tenuous or nonexistent. In this article, we argue for better integration of these three domains, providing two case studies from the Cornell Roybal Center that illustrate the positive role theory and research can play in intervention designs and broader applicability of findings.

Design and methods: Study 1 involved a social support intervention for persons making the transition to becoming a family caregiver. Study 2 was an organizational intervention designed to improve interpersonal relationships and increase mutual support between family caregivers and staff in nursing homes.

Results: Several benefits emerged as a result of creating theoretically grounded and research-based interventions, including guidance for innovative intervention design and the production of findings that inform both basic research and intervention.

Implications: A much closer link between theory and basic research and intervention studies is indicated, suggesting that current federal support of translational research initiatives is justified and worthy of expansion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Methodology Research*
  • Nursing Theory
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Social Support