The Effects of a Special Computer Network on Caregivers of Persons With Alzheimer's Disease

Nurs Res. May-Jun 1995;44(3):166-72.


Caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are confronted with novel decision-making tasks that leave them at risk for social isolation. ComputerLink is a computer network providing information, communication, and decision-support functions for caregivers of persons with AD. One hundred two AD caregivers participated in a randomized field experiment to evaluate the effects of ComputerLink on confidence in decision making, decision-making skill, and social isolation. During the 1-year study period, AD caregivers averaged two encounters per week with ComputerLink for sessions lasting an average of 13 minutes. Access to ComputerLink enhanced caregivers' decision-making confidence. Decision-making skill was unaffected. ComputerLink access did not lead to changes in social isolation as measured by standard instruments. The decision-support function was used least often. Postings to ComputerLink's public bulletin board included both information-seeking and supportive messages. These findings are congruent with reports of other community-based interventions for caregivers and consistent with evaluations of computerized decision-support systems.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Computer Communication Networks*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Psychological Tests
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Support