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Life Enhancing Activities for Family Caregivers of people with dementia: protocol for a randomized controlled trial of a positive affect skills intervention

Authors Verstaen A, Moskowitz JT, Snowberg KE, Merrilees J, Dowling GA

Received 1 September 2017

Accepted for publication 7 December 2017

Published 7 February 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 1—12


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Arthur Frankel

Alice Verstaen,1 Judith T Moskowitz,2 Karin E Snowberg,1 Jennifer Merrilees,3 Glenna A Dowling1

1Department of Physiological Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 2Department of Medical Social Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 3UCSF Memory and Aging Center, Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

Abstract: Given the increasing number of family caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD) and the associated burden and detriments to both physical and mental health, interventions that aim to improve such outcomes are important. Studies are increasingly demonstrating the unique importance of positive emotions in coping with stress, independent from the impact of negative emotions. However, none have examined the benefits of interventions that target positive emotions for caregivers of individuals with a chronic and debilitating disease such as dementia. This paper presents the design and methods for a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a positive affect skills intervention for family caregivers of PWD. The RCT is of a skills-based intervention that seeks to increase the frequency and intensity of positive affect in order to improve outcomes such as well-being, coping, and physical and mental health. The skills are delivered by trained facilitators via five one-to-one Internet video sessions with family caregivers of persons diagnosed with dementia (eg, Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, unspecified). The control group is an emotion reporting/waitlist control. Follow-up assessments are conducted post-intervention and at 1, 3, and 6 months post-completion of the intervention. This study promises to be an important and needed step toward improving the lives of caregivers of PWD.

Keywords: positive affect, dementia caregiving, coping, intervention, stress, RCT

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