• Online information and support for carers of people with young-onset dementia: A multi-site randomised controlled pilot study

      Metcalfe, A.; Jones, B.; Mayer, J.; Gage, H.; Oyebode, Jan R.; Boucault, S.; Aloui, S.; Schwertel, U.; Böhm, M.; Tezenas du Montcel, S.; et al. (2019-10)
      The European RHAPSODY project sought to develop and test an online information and support programme for caregivers of individuals diagnosed with young onset dementia. The objectives were to assess user acceptability and satisfaction with the programme and to test outcome measures for a larger effectiveness study. DESIGN: A pilot randomised controlled trial in England, France, and Germany was conducted with 61 caregivers for adults with young onset Alzheimer's disease or frontotemporal degeneration. Evaluations at baseline, week 6, and week 12 assessed user acceptability and satisfaction. Use of the programme was measured from online back-end data. Qualitative feedback on user experiences was collected via semi-structured interviews. Measures of caregiver well-being (self-efficacy, stress, burden, frequency of patient symptoms, and caregiver reactions) were explored for use in a subsequent trial. RESULTS: Participants logged in online on average once a week over a 6-week period, consulting approximately 31% of programme content. Seventy percent of participants described the programme as useful and easy to use. Eighty-five percent expressed intent to use the resource in the future. Reductions in reported levels of stress and caregivers' negative reactions to memory symptoms were observed following use of the programme. CONCLUSIONS: Results indicated that the RHAPSODY programme was acceptable and useful to caregivers. The programme may be complementary to existing services in responding to the specific needs of families affected by young onset dementia. Distribution of the programme is underway in England, France, Germany, and Portugal.
    • RHAPSODY - Internet-based support for caregivers of people with young onset dementia: program design and methods of a pilot study

      Kurz, A.; Bakker, C.; Bohm, M.; Diehl-Schmid, J.; Dubois, B.; Ferreira, C.; Gage, H.; Graff, C.; Hergueta, T.; Jansen, S.; et al. (2016)
      Background: Young Onset Dementia (YOD), defined by first symptoms of cognitive or behavioral decline occurring before the age of 65 years, is relatively rare compared to dementia of later onset, but it is associated with diagnostic difficulty and heavy burden on affected individuals and their informal carers. Existing health and social care structures rarely meet the needs of YOD patients. Internet-based interventions are a novel format of delivering health-related education, counseling and support to this vulnerable yet underserved group. Methods: The RHAPSODY (Research to Assess Policies and Strategies for Dementia in the Young) project is a European initiative to improve care for people with YOD by providing an internet-based information and skill-building program for family carers. The e-learning program focuses on managing problem behaviors, dealing with role change, obtaining support and looking after oneself. It will be evaluated in a pilot study in three countries using a randomized unblinded design with a wait-list control group. Participants will be informal carers of people with dementia in Alzheimer’s disease or behavioral-variant Frontotemporal degeneration with an onset before the age of 65 years. The primary outcome will be caregiving self-efficacy after 6 weeks of program use. As secondary outcomes caregivers’ stress and burden, carer health-related quality of life, caring-related knowledge, patient problem behaviors and user satisfaction will be assessed. Program utilization will be monitored and a health-economic evaluation will also be performed. Conclusions: The RHAPSODY project will add to the evidence on the potential and limitations of a conveniently accessible, user-friendly and comprehensive internet-based intervention as an alternative for traditional forms of counseling and support in healthcare, aiming to optimize care and support for people with YOD and their informal caregivers.