Self-Directed Online Training Intervention for Chinese Dementia Caregivers

Period of Performance: 09/01/2016 - 04/30/2017


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Environment and Health Group, Inc.
Cambridge, MA 02138
Principal Investigator


? DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The objective of this Phase II application is to develop an online self-directed learning (SDL) intervention program that seeks to improve caregiving and self-care skills among ethnic Chinese dementia caregivers. The benefits of such a product may include improved psychological health in caregivers and a reduction in behavioral disturbances among elderly care recipients with dementia. While online dementia caregiver interventions are advantageous in reaching broad audiences, they face significant challenges in engaging the target audience and keeping them engaged throughout the intervention program. The proposed online SDL skill training intervention addresses these challenges with a comprehensive engagement design to ensure retention and effective learning in the training program. All Phase I Study Aims have been successfully completed. The prototype provides preliminary evidence that an SDL training intervention is able to successfully engage ethnic Chinese caregivers of elders with dementia, improving perceived self-efficacy to manage caregiving tasks, while reducing negative emotions in the caregiver. Phase II Specific Aims: The Phase II study will further develop the prototype into a fully functioning online SDL skill training intervention for ethnic Chinese dementia caregivers, and evaluate it in a randomized control trial. In Specific Aim 1, we will develop additional multi-lingual training video clips to complete the training program, and make them available for Cantonese-, Mandarin-, and/or English-speaking caregivers from different Chinese cultural backgrounds. In Specific Aim 2, we will develop software that enables and integrates all engagement design functionalities. In Specific Aim 3, we will conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the SDL training intervention based on a comprehensive engagement design (intervention arm) compared to one that does not rely on a comprehensive engagement design (control arm). Primary Hypotheses: The intervention arm will result in significantly better caregiver health outcomes (reduced perceived stress and depressive symptoms) and care recipient outcomes (reduced behavioral disturbances) compared to the control arm. Secondary Hypotheses: The effects of the intervention on the primary outcomes are mediated through increased adherence (e.g., amount of total exposure) to the intervention program, increased self-efficacy in handling caregiving tasks, and reduced expressed emotion. Evidence of the effectiveness of the SDL intervention will contribute to the larger information and communication technology field, increasing our understanding and basic knowledge of effective engagement in the rapidly growing field of online health interventions. The comprehensive engagement approach developed through this SBIR could be transferred to other ethnic minority groups facing dementia caregiving challenges, as well as other populations facing challenges related to the management of other chronic conditions.