Mindfulness-based Cognitive Coping Mobile App Intervention for caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer?s Disease

Period of Performance: 09/15/2017 - 08/31/2018


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Photozig, Inc.
Moffett Field, CA 94035
Principal Investigator


Project Summary: Alzheimer?s Disease (AD) is a devastating illness for patients, families, and society. Most of the care of AD patients rests on shoulders of informal caregivers, largely untrained to undertake the caregiving role, bearing a high level of distress, and suffering deterioration in physical health and psychological well-being. There are over 15 million Americans providing care to dementia patients, experiencing high rates of stress (60%), depression (33%), associated risks for cardiovascular diseases, and many other adverse health effects. For example, in separate studies, hospitalization and emergency department visits were more likely for dementia caregivers than any other types of caregivers. Research suggests that non-pharmacological interventions are beneficial to dementia caregivers. However, many programs depend on facility-based approaches or small group interventions, which limit feasibility, cost- effectiveness, and deployment. The lack of dissemination is due to cost, location (i.e. outside settings, group meetings, etc.) or temporal factors (specific meeting times). In order to address these limitations, we propose the development of a new Mindfulness-based Cognitive Coping (MCC) Mobile App intervention, not only to enable access to caregivers with the mobile app (at any place, and any time), but also to provide an effective intervention to reduce stress and depression in a cost-effective manner to a large number of caregivers. The MCC intervention will be adapted from the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which has been effective to treat individuals with major depressive disorder, with the integration of dementia caregiving coping strategies from our past studies, to help caregivers to overcome stressful situations in their caregiver role. Our goal is to enhance the very effective MBCT protocol with core dementia caregiving components and implement it in a mobile app, called Caring Mind App (CMA), with interactive and engaging features, in order to develop an intervention to decrease stress, reduce depression, and improve the psychological well-being of dementia caregivers, which could be disseminated to millions of families struggling with dementia. Innovation: this is the first implementation of the MBCT protocol combined with dementia caregiving coping strategies in a mobile app. As far as we know, there are no similar products in the market place. In partnership with the Alzheimer?s Association, Stanford University, and caregivers, we will determine the curriculum of the new intervention. Focus groups involving caregivers will inform the project and explore caregiver attitudes towards the MCC program, mobile app usage, and overall intervention protocol. A prototype will be developed and tested with dementia caregivers to establish the feasibility of the approach in Phase I. The results will guide the development of the full intervention in Phase II. Commercial Opportunity: MCC program will be available to dementia caregivers (15+ Million people in US) as a mobile app subscription. This model has been very successful with our current mobile apps in App Stores.