Predictors of improvement in social support: Five-year effects of a structured intervention for caregivers of spouses with alzheimer's disease
Citation Drentea P., Clay, O.J., Roth, D. L., Mittelman, M. S. (2006). Predictors of improvement in social support: Five-year effects of a structured intervention for caregivers of spouses with alzheimer's disease. Social Science & Medicine 63(4), 957-967.
Design Quasi - experiment
Purpose The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of intervention on caregivers' satisfaction with social support over time.
Hypothesis It was hypothesized: Caregivers who received the enhanced intervention would experience higher rates of satisfaction with social support over time compared to the control group. The growth in support satisfaction would be associated with increases in instrumental emotional and informational support, as well as network characteristics, including more frequent phone calls and visits by support network members, a larger support network and number of close network members. Receiving the desired level of contact (i.e. not wanting more or less contact) would be associated with satisfaction with support measures.
Improvements in these specific areas of social support would partially explain why the intervention group would have higher satisfaction with support than the usual care control group.
Participants Participants were caregivers (N=200) of a spouse with Alzheimer's disease, randomly assigned to treatment and control groups.
Outcome / Dependent Variables The dependent variable in this study was caregiver social support satisfaction.
Procedure In the first 4 months of the study the caregivers in the treatment group received two individual counseling sessions: one before and the second after a series of family counseling sessions. At the end of the 4 month period, spouse caregivers were required to join support groups that met weekly. Counselors were available by telephone to caregivers and other family members to discuss any problems.
Outcomes The group that received the intervention experienced consistently higher levels of support satisfaction. Surprisingly, the amount of instrumental support was not a significant predictor of satisfaction with social support. Evidently, older caregivers place greater value on intangible emotional support, because they have become isolated, and/or because tangible (instrumental) support can be found elsewhere (purchased or obtained from community organizations) while emotional support cannot.
Author Drentea P., Clay, O.J., Roth, D. L., Mittelman, M. S.