Methods: A 2-group quasi-experimental study, using a pre-and post-test repeated measure method, was conducted to investigate the study outcomes. Recruited through from a medical center in central Taiwan, 72 primary family caregivers were assigned to the control (n = 38) and the experimental groups (n = 34), based on participants' choices. The experimental group participated at the support group that comprised of five sessions; each session lasted for three hours, two hours of education on the disease process and care strategies and one hour of discussion, question and answer. The support group met every two weeks. The control group received a health teaching pamphlet on dementia at their medical visit. Data from both group were collected, at the same time, three times: first at baseline, the second time at upon immediate completion of the support group and the third time at one month after the second data collection. A demographic questionnaire developed by the researcher, the Chinese version of Caregiver Burden Inventory by developed Novak & Guest (1989) and translated by Cho (2002) and Taiwan version of WHOQOL-BREF, translated by Yao (2001) were used to collect data. Descriptive statistics, chi-square, t-test, paired t-test, ANOVA, Pearson correlation, and repeated measurements ANOVA were used to answer the research questions and to test study hypotheses. The significant level was set at 0.05. Data were analyzed using SPSS 12.0 software.
Results: The results of this study were as follow: (a) the participating caregivers showed a moderate degree of caregiver's burden (total score = 1234) with mean scores of 48.71 (SD = 13.74) and 45.68 (SD = 11.70) for the experimental and the control groups, respectively; (b) moderate levels of quality of life (total score = 1234) were found with either the experimental group (M = 51.81; SD = 8.67) or the control group (M = 49.68; SD = 9.43); (c) every one point increased in caregiver’s burden, there would be a decrease of 0.65 in caregiver’s burden (p = .036); the caregiver's burden would explain 31.5% variance of caregiver's quality of life (p = .000); (d) length of time as a caregiver was related to the level of caregiver’s burden; every one month increase in length of time, there would be an increase of 0.045 in caregiver’s burden (p = .036); (e) the support group intervention had a positive impact on the caregiver’s burden and the quality of life; (f) participants at the experimental group had better caregivers’ burdens and better qualities of lives than those in control group did at immediate completion of the support group and at 1-month follow up.
Conclusions and Implication: Results of this study may serve as a reference for healthcare professionals when planning care for elderly with dementia and their families. A support group should be considered as a routine care regimen to provide holistic care and to improve the overall well-beings of family caregivers.
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