Aim: This paper reports a study to examine the effectiveness of a 6-month dementia care programme for Chinese families living with and caring for a relative with dementia, compared with routine family support services in Hong Kong.
Background: Recognizing the adverse psychosocial health effects inherent in dementia care, different psychosocial interventions provided preliminary evidence of their effectiveness in improving family members' knowledge and skills in caregiving and delaying dementia sufferers' illness deterioration and institutionalization. Little is known about the effects of such interventions for family caregivers' psychosocial health conditions, particularly in non-Western populations.
Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 92 Chinese families of a relative with dementia in two dementia care centres in Hong Kong. They were randomly selected from a dementia client list and then randomly assigned to receive either the dementia family care programme (n=46), or routine care only (n=46). Clients' symptoms and institutionalization, and caregivers' quality of life, burden and social support at recruitment, 1 week, and 12 and 18 months following intervention were measured and compared between the study groups using repeated measures MANOVAS followed by Helmert's contrast tests. Data was collected over a period of 24 months, between September 2007 and August 2009.
Results: Results of the MANOVAS and contrast tests indicated that at 18-month follow-up, participants in the family programme reported significantly greater improvements in clients' symptoms and institutionalization rates, and caregivers' quality of life and burden, when compared with their counterparts in the routine care group.
Conclusion: These findings provide evidence that the dementia care family programme can improve the psychosocial functioning of both clients with dementia and their family caregivers in a Chinese population. Further research is recommended to investigate whether this intervention can also apply to families with different socio-economic backgrounds and across cultures.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Advanced Nursing © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.