Disease Management Program for Families of Dementia Sufferers

Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Wai-Tong Chien, PhD, MPhil, RMN , The Nethersole School of Nursing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, Hong Kong

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand the health needs of family caregivers of patients with dementia

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to implement a controlled trial to test the effect of a multi-disciplinary family management program in dementia

This study tested the effectiveness of the Dementia Family Management Program for Chinese families caring for a relative with dementia on caregivers' and patients' health outcomes over a 18-month follow-up. Studies demonstrate that family-centered intervention for dementia sufferers is essential and effective. However, little is known about the effects of such interventions for family members, particularly in non-Western populations.

A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 90 families of dementia sufferers in two dementia care centers in Hong Kong. They were assigned randomly to either the disease management program or routine dementia care. Patients' symptoms and institutionalization, and caregivers' quality of life, burden and social support at recruitment and 12 and 18 months after intervention, were compared between the two study groups.

The results show that the families in the disease management program reported significantly greater improvements in patients' symptoms and institutionalization, and caregivers' quality of life and burden at follow-ups, compared with the control group. These findings provide evidence that the family program can improve psychosocial functioning of Chinese dementia sufferers and their caregivers. Further research is recommended to explore its therapeutic components and investigate its universality in families with different socio-economic backgrounds and across cultures.