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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2011 May;66(3):302-6. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbr004. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Feasibility of recruiting spouses with DSM-IV diagnoses for caregiver interventions.

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Baycrest Brain Health Centre, Toronto, Canada.



Reviews and meta-analyses suggest that caregiver interventions have only been modestly effective in reducing caregiver distress. One possible reason is that many intervention studies have recruited heterogeneous caregivers with subclinical symptoms. This study examined the feasibility of recruiting a more homogenous group of caregivers with high clinical distress levels for an intensive therapy intervention.


During the 2-year study and under ideal circumstances, we recruited caregivers of community-dwelling older adults with dementia for group cognitive behavioral therapy at a University of Toronto affiliated and internationally recognized geriatric health sciences center. We used strict eligibility criteria to recruit primary spouse caregivers with a DSM-IV diagnosis, normal cognitive functioning, and clinically significant distress levels.


Of the 97 caregivers screened, 61 were ineligible or uninterested. The 36 interested caregivers who met screening criteria completed a diagnostic intake assessment and only 28 were eligible to begin therapy.


These results indicate that it would be extremely difficult for clinicians or researchers working in smaller cities or health care centers to run caregiver intervention groups using strict entrance criteria such as those employed in this study. The results of this study provide further support for the importance of diverse and tailored caregiver interventions.

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