Testing the effectivity of the mixed virtual reality training Into D'mentia for informal caregivers of people with dementia: protocol for a longitudinal, quasi-experimental study

BMJ Open. 2017 Aug 21;7(8):e015702. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015702.


Introduction: Informal caregivers for people with dementia (hereafter: caregivers) often feel (over)burdened by the care for a loved one with dementia, and this can have various deleterious effects on both caregivers and patients. Support for caregivers is urgently needed, and for this reason, a dementia simulator (Into D'mentia) was developed in which caregivers experience what it is like to have dementia. The simulator attempts to heighten caregivers' empathy and understanding for the patient and, in turn, diminish their own caregiver burden. The current study evaluates whether the simulator is effective on a number of outcomes.

Methods and analysis: A longitudinal, quasi-experimental study is ongoing in the Netherlands. We aim to recruit 142 caregivers in total divided over two groups: 71 caregivers in the intervention group and 71 caregivers in the control group. All participants will complete interviews and questionnaires at four time points: at baseline, 1 week, 2.5 months and 15 months after the training. The primary outcomes include empathy, caregiver burden, caregiver's sense of competence, social reliance, anxiety, depression and caregivers' subjective and objective health.

Ethics and dissemination: This study is being carried out in agreement with the Declaration of Helsinki, and the protocol has been approved by the local ethics committees.

Registration details: This study is registered with The Netherlands National Trial Register (NNTR5856).

Keywords: caregiver burden; dementia; empathy; informal caregiver; simulation; virtual reality.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Caregivers / education*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Empathy
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Netherlands
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Regression Analysis
  • Research Design
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Virtual Reality*