Abstract 2285: Feasibility Study for Spousal Caregivers Receiving a Telehealth Social Support Intervention
Spousal caregivers with major caregiving responsibilities for seriously chronically ill persons may neglect healthy lifestyle behaviors and be vulnerable for poor health outcomes. Caregivers are more stressed and have mortality risks 63% higher than for non-caregivers. Research with heart failure (HF) caregivers has assessed burden but hasn’t evaluated interventions to diminish stress outcomes. The objective of this feasibility study was to examine the outcomes of an 8-week social support (SS) intervention on the health behaviors of coping and sleep, and the outcomes of stress (burden), and physical and mental functioning in spousal caregivers of HF patients. A repeated measures design was used to examine patterns at baseline, 1, 2, 3, and 5 months. Participants were randomly assigned to intervention or control groups. The Health Buddy, a simple, user-friendly, 6 by 9 inch telecommunication device, was used to deliver the SS intervention. The intervention group accessed the Health Buddy daily for 10 –15 minutes for information on HF, healthy lifestyle behaviors, emotional support, seeking SS, and conflict management. Coping, stress, physical and mental functioning were measured using valid, reliable questionnaires. Sleep was measured with the Actiwatch L. The 20 participants were 80% Caucasian and 80% women with a mean age of 60 years. Findings indicated the intervention group increased use of problem-focused coping and seeking SS, and were lower in blaming self, wishful thinking, and avoidance coping than the control group. For the control group, caregiver burden increased. For the intervention group, caregiver burden decreased overall. Physical functioning was unchanged for the control group and improved in the intervention group. Mental functioning was unchanged for the control group and decreased by for the intervention group. Sleep latency rose in the control group and decreased in the intervention group. Components of SS can be delivered via a telehealth communication device. Intervention participants improved coping skills, diminished burden, improved physical functioning and improved sleep latency.