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96 Feasibility Trial of a Mobile Health Intervention for Dementia Caregivers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2023

Taylor R Maynard*
Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA. Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, USA.
Shehjar Sadhu
University of Rhode Island, North Kingston, RI, USA.
Dhaval Solanki
University of Rhode Island, North Kingston, RI, USA.
Kunal Mankodiya
University of Rhode Island, North Kingston, RI, USA.
Jennifer Davis
Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, USA. Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
Lisa Uebelacker
Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. Butler Hospital, Providence, RI, USA
Brian R Ott
Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
Geoffrey Tremont
Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, USA. Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
Correspondence: Taylor Maynard Rhode Island Hospital
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There are numerous adverse health outcomes associated with dementia caregiving, including increased stress and depression. Caregivers often face time-related, socioeconomic, geographic, and pandemic-related barriers to treatment. Thus, implementing mobile health (mHealth) interventions is one way of increasing caregivers’ access to supportive care. The objective of the current study was to collect data from a 3-month feasibility trial of a multicomponent mHealth intervention for dementia caregivers.

Participants and Methods:

40 community-dwelling dementia caregivers were randomized to receive the CARE-Well (Caregiver Assessment, Resources, and Education) App or internet links connected to caregiver education, support, and resources. Caregivers were encouraged to use the App or links at least 4 times per week for 3 months. The App consisted of self-assessments, caregiver and stress reduction education, behavior problem management, calendar reminders, and online social support. Caregivers completed measures of burden, depression, and desire to institutionalize at baseline and post-intervention. Feasibility data included App usage, retention and adherence rates, and treatment satisfaction. Data were analyzed via descriptive statistics.


Caregivers were mostly white (95%), female (68%), in their mid-60s, (M= 66.38, SD= 10.64), and well-educated (M= 15.52 years, SD= 2.26). Caregivers were mainly spouses (68%) or adult children (30%). Care recipients were diagnosed with mild (60%) or moderate (40%) dementia, with 80% diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease. Overall, the study had an 85% retention rate (80% for App group; 90% for links group). 58% of caregivers in the App group were considered high users, using the App >120 minutes over the course of 3 months (M= 362.42, SD= 432.68), and an average of 16.44 days (SD= 15.51). 15% of the sample was non-adherent due to time constraints, disinterest, and/or technology issues. Most participants (75%) using the App were mostly or very satisfied, about 87% would be likely or very likely to seek similar programs in the future, and 93% found the App mostly or very understandable. Groups did not significantly differ on clinical outcomes, although the study was not powered for an efficacy analysis. Within groups analysis revealed significant increases in depressive symptoms at post-treatment for caregivers in both groups.


This study demonstrated initial feasibility of the CARE-Well App for dementia caregivers. App use was lower than expected, however, high satisfaction, ease of use, and willingness to use similar programs in the future were endorsed. Some caregivers did not complete the intervention due to caregiving responsibilities, general disinterest, and/or technology issues. Although the study was not designed to assess clinical outcomes, we found that both groups reported higher depressive symptoms at post-treatment. This finding was unexpected and might reflect pandemic-related stress, which has been shown to particularly impact dementia caregivers. Future studies should address the efficacy of multicomponent mHealth interventions for dementia caregivers and the effects of increased dose on clinical outcomes. mHealth interventions should be refined to cater to varying levels of technology literacy among caregivers, and further research should aim to better integrate interventions into caregivers’ routines to enhance treatment engagement.

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Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2023