Determining care management activities associated with mastery and relationship strain for dementia caregivers

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008 May;56(5):891-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01643.x. Epub 2008 Apr 1.


Objectives: To identify specific care management activities within a dementia care management intervention that are associated with 18-month change in caregiver mastery and relationship strain.

Design: Exploratory analysis, using secondary data (care management processes and caregiver outcomes) from the intervention arm of a clinic-level randomized, controlled trial of a dementia care management quality improvement program.

Setting: Nine primary care clinics in three managed care and fee-for-service southern California healthcare organizations.

Participants: Two hundred thirty-eight pairs: individuals with dementia and their informal, nonprofessional caregivers.

Measurements: Care management activity types extracted from an electronic database were used as predictors of caregiver mastery and relationship strain, which were measured through mailed surveys. Multivariable linear regression models were used to predict caregiver mastery and relationship strain.

Results: For each care manager home environment assessment, caregiver mastery increased 4 points (range 0-100, mean+/-standard deviation 57.1+/-26.6, 95% confidence interval (CI)=2.4-5.7; P=.001) between baseline and 18 months. For every action linking caregivers to community agencies for nonspecific needs, caregiver mastery decreased 6.2 points (95% CI=-8.5 to -3.9; P<.001). No other care management activities were significantly associated with this outcome, and no specific activities were associated with a change in caregiver relationship strain.

Conclusion: Home assessments for specific needs of caregivers and persons with dementia are associated with improvements in caregivers' sense of mastery. Future work is needed to determine whether this increase is sustained over time and decreases the need for institutionalization.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • California
  • Caregivers / education
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Community Networks
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Home Nursing / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / nursing
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Needs Assessment* / statistics & numerical data
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Care Management / organization & administration*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Software
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted