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Improving Stroke Caregiver Outcomes: Evaluation of the RESCUE Website

Uphold CR, Findley KE, Wing KL, Freytes IM, Hanjian JM, Midolo JP, Knauff LE, Rodriguez W, Whittle JC. Improving Stroke Caregiver Outcomes: Evaluation of the RESCUE Website. Poster session presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2012 Jul 18; National Harbor, MD.


Objectives: Our goal was to improve stroke caregivers' knowledge and skills by developing, implementing, and evaluating a VA website to serve as a patient education resource for providers and family members. Methods: We used the 4-stage, NIH health communication model to guide our 3-site study (Gainesville, Milwaukee, San Juan). In the development phase, we used community-based participatory research methods and partnered with VA and non-VA organizations. We used evidenced-based "best practices" to create a low-literate, senior-friendly VA website that is written in both English and Spanish languages. We pretested the website in multiple ways: a) focus groups with providers (total n = 32), b) in-person interviews with culturally-diverse family caregivers (n = 45), c) expert panel of clinicians (n = 11), and d) cognitive "think aloud" usability study with caregivers (n = 4) and providers (n = 3). We conducted a multi-prong, social marketing campaign (VHA Twitter/Facebook, eBlast emails, health fairs at 13 VA medical centers, consumer/professional publications) to motivate caregivers and providers to use the website. We evaluated the website by conducting online and telephone surveys with providers (total n = 53) and using Webtrends analysis. Results: After development and pretesting, we created the RESCUE (Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers' Understanding and Empowerment) website ( The website consists of a library of 45 factsheets, a problem-solving learning module, self-help tools, resource list, patient education newsletters, and a glossary with phonetic spellings. Survey results indicate that providers are using the website for educating caregivers and view the website as informative, comprehensive, credible and up-to-date. Webtrends analytics found that there were over 6000 visits to the website and that website usage increased significantly following each promotional activity. Implications: Implementations science methods, social marketing approaches, and evidence-based principles for designing web-based health information led to the creation of a senior-friendly website for stroke caregivers. Ensuring that information for caregivers is consumer-oriented, culturally-sensitive, and at a low literacy level is a positive strategy to improve the home care of Veterans with stroke. Impacts: The RESCUE website is a resource to inform and empower caregivers, and ultimately to improve outcomes of Veterans with stroke. The website is a tool that providers can use for patient education and support interventions for caregivers.

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