Do patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease benefit from a psycho-educational programme for family caregivers? A randomised controlled study

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;26(8):833-42. doi: 10.1002/gps.2611. Epub 2010 Oct 4.


Objective: The Aide dans la Maladie d'Alzheimer (AIDMA) study was conducted to determine whether a psycho-educational programme (PEP) for primary caregivers in addition to standard anti-dementia drugs for patients improves caregivers' psychological condition and patients' activities of daily life.

Method: Multicentre randomised controlled intervention trial. One hundred and sixty-seven dyads 'patient-caregiver' were recruited from 15 French memory clinics and randomised in two parallel groups. The intervention group was offered the PEP in 12 group sessions for 3 months. The control group had usual care. Patients in both groups with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) were diagnosed and treated with pharmacotherapy. Patients' primary efficacy variable was functional status assessed with the Disability Assessment Scale for Dementia (DAD) scale. Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-Cog) and Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) were secondary criteria. Caregivers' first outcome measure was depressive symptoms assessed with the Montgomery and Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) scale. Zarit scale, Sense of Competence Questionnaire (SCQ) and Visual Analogue Scales (VAS) were secondary criteria. Assessment was done at baseline, 3 months (M3, end of intervention) and 6 months (M6).

Results: Patients' stabilisation was observed in both groups. In caregivers, significant improvement in disease understanding at M3 (p = 0.007) and M6 (p = 0.0001) and in ability to cope with care-recipients' disease at M6 (0.02) was evidenced.

Conclusion: The PEP had no additional impact on patients but carers developed more effective disease understanding and ability of coping. Results support the idea that the PEP although improving caregivers' condition is not sufficient to improve patients' activities in daily life which requires additional individually tailored interventions provided by professionals.

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
  • Caregivers / education*
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • France
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales