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Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 1994 Jan-Feb;18(1):1-14.

Efficacy of a support group programme for care-givers of demented patients in the community: a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Centre de recherche en gérontologie et gériatrie, Hôpital d'Youville, 1036, Belvédére Sud, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada, JIH 4C4.


Dementia induces morbidity not only in the patients but also in the families taking care of them. Many studies described the impact of care-giving on physical and psychological health. Support groups were designed to alleviate the burden of care-givers. The objective of this study was to measure the efficacy of a support group programme for care-givers of demented patients in the community. Forty-one primary care-givers were randomly assigned to a study (n=23) or a control group (n=18). Subjects of the study group attended a structured programme of eight 2-h sessions. These weekly sessions consisted of information on the disease, role-playing on management of behavior problems, discussion on emotional impact of care-giving, and learning of stress management techniques. Subjects of the control group were referred to informal monthly meetings of the Alzheimer's Society. Subjects of both groups were evaluated at the entry (T1), after 8 weeks (T2) and after 8 months (T3). The outcome variables were the Burden Interview, the Revised Memory and Behavior Problems Checklist, the Brief Symptoms Inventory, the Alzheimer's Disease Knowledge Test and a questionnaire on health care utilization. Compared with the control group, subjects of the study group yielded only a significant increase in knowledge about the disease (p<0.0001) but no significant difference on the other outcome variables. It is concluded that this type of support group programme seems to have only a minimal impact on morbidity and on the burden of care-givers. These results are similar with two other studies examining the same issue.

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