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Kales HC, Gitlin LN, Stanislawski B, Myra Kim H, Marx K, Turnwald M, Chiang C, Lyketsos CG. Effect of the WeCareAdvisor™ on family caregiver outcomes in dementia: a pilot randomized controlled trial. BMC geriatrics. 2018 May 10; 18(1):113.
BACKGROUND: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are universal and associated with multiple negative outcomes. This pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluated the effect of using the WeCareAdvisor, an innovative web-based tool developed to enable family caregivers to assess, manage, and track BPSD. METHODS: This RCT enrolled 57 dementia family caregivers from community and clinical settings in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Baltimore, Maryland. Participants were randomly assigned to immediate use of the WeCareAdvisor tool (WCA, n = 27) or a Waitlist control group (n = 30) that received the tool after a one-month waiting period. Outcomes for the caregiver and the person they were caring for were assessed at baseline (T0) and one-month followup for both the WCA (T1) and Waitlist control (T2) groups. RESULTS: Caregiver mean age was 65.9?± 14.0 years old. About half (49%) were spouses. Baseline characteristics were comparable between groups except for mean caregiver confidence which was higher in the control group (WCA 35.0?± 10.0 vs. Waitlist control 39.7?± 6.9, p = 0.04). There were no significant differences between the WCA and control groups in characteristics of the person with dementia. After their one-month of tool use (T1), WCA caregivers showed significant within group improvement in caregiver distress (-?6.08?± 6.31 points, t = -?4.82, p < 0.0001) and behavioral frequency (-?3.60?± 5.05, t = -?3.56, p = 0.002), severity (-?3.24?± 3.87, t = -?4.19, p = 0.0003) and total behavioral score (-?6.80?± 10.73, t = -?3.17, p = 004). In the same timeframe, Waitlist control caregivers showed a significant decrease in confidence (-?6.40?± 10.30, t = -?3.40, p = 0.002). The WCA group showed greater improvement in distress compared to the Waitlist group (T0-T1; t = -?2.49, p = 0.02), which remained significant after adjusting for site and baseline distress. There were no significant between-group differences in caregiver confidence or other secondary outcomes. After their one month of tool use (T2), the Waitlist group also showed significant improvement in caregiver distress (-?3.72?± 7.53, t = -?2.66, p = 0.013), stress (-?0.41?± 1.02, t = -?2.19, p = 0.037), confidence (4.38?± 5.17, t = 4.56, p < 0.0001), burden (-?2.76?± 7.26, t = -?2.05, p = 0.05), negative communication (-?1.48?± 2.96, t = -?2.70, p = 0.012) and behavioral frequency (-?1.86?± 4.58, t = -?2.19, p = 0.037); distress remained significant after adjustment. CONCLUSIONS: In this pilot RCT, WCA use resulted in a significant decrease in caregiver distress. Future research will identify whether longer use of WCA can impact other caregiver and behavioral outcomes. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinicaltrials.gov identifier NCT02420535 (Date of registry: 4/20/2015, prior to the start of the clinical trial).