Aim: The goal of the present work was to measure the efficacy of a multicomponent programme designed to provide tailored support for the caregivers of disabled persons.
Subjects: A total of 135 caregivers-care receiver dyads were randomly divided into an intervention group (n = 66) and a control group (n = 69). One-third of the care receivers were demented, and two-thirds had other diseases.
Setting: Health centres (publicly funded primary health care systems) in 8 rural and urban communities in southeast Finland.
Intervention: The multicomponent support programme for the caregivers consisted of a 2-week rehabilitation period. The control group received standard care.
Outcome measurements: Continuation of the caregiver and care receiver relationship, care receiver mortality at the 2-year follow-up as well as the health-related quality of life (15D scale) and Zung's depression scale of the caregiver at the 1-year follow-up were evaluated.
Results: At the 2-year follow-up, the caregiver-care receiver relationship was terminated for any reason in 11 cases (17%) in the intervention group, and in 25 cases (36%) in the control group. After adjusting, the primary outcome (i.e., termination of care giving for any reason) indicated statistical significance (p = 0.04) with a hazard rate of 1.83 (95% confidence interval 1.03-3.29). With a similar adjustment, the difference in mortality and placement to institutional care between the two groups demonstrated a trend towards statistical significance. The caregivers' health, as related to quality of life and depressive symptoms, remained unchanged in both groups at the 1-year follow-up.
Conclusion: These results indicate that a tailored support programme for caregivers may help the caregiver to continue the caregiver-care receiver relationship and delay institutionalization.