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The objectives of this study were to develop and refine EMPOWER (Enhancing and Mobilizing the POtential for Wellness and Resilience), a brief manualized cognitive-behavioral, acceptance-based intervention for surrogate decision-makers of critically ill patients and to evaluate its preliminary feasibility, acceptability, and promise in improving surrogates’ mental health and patient outcomes.
Part 1 involved obtaining qualitative stakeholder feedback from 5 bereaved surrogates and 10 critical care and mental health clinicians. Stakeholders were provided with the manual and prompted for feedback on its content, format, and language. Feedback was organized and incorporated into the manual, which was then re-circulated until consensus. In Part 2, surrogates of critically ill patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) reporting moderate anxiety or close attachment were enrolled in an open trial of EMPOWER. Surrogates completed six, 15–20 min modules, totaling 1.5–2 h. Surrogates were administered measures of peritraumatic distress, experiential avoidance, prolonged grief, distress tolerance, anxiety, and depression at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and at 1-month and 3-month follow-up assessments.
Part 1 resulted in changes to the EMPOWER manual, including reducing jargon, improving navigability, making EMPOWER applicable for a range of illness scenarios, rearranging the modules, and adding further instructions and psychoeducation. Part 2 findings suggested that EMPOWER is feasible, with 100% of participants completing all modules. The acceptability of EMPOWER appeared strong, with high ratings of effectiveness and helpfulness (M = 8/10). Results showed immediate post-intervention improvements in anxiety (d = −0.41), peritraumatic distress (d = −0.24), and experiential avoidance (d = −0.23). At the 3-month follow-up assessments, surrogates exhibited improvements in prolonged grief symptoms (d = −0.94), depression (d = −0.23), anxiety (d = −0.29), and experiential avoidance (d = −0.30).
Significance of results
Preliminary data suggest that EMPOWER is feasible, acceptable, and associated with notable improvements in psychological symptoms among surrogates. Future research should examine EMPOWER with a larger sample in a randomized controlled trial.
Background: The study was conducted to examine the relationships between functional decline, health risk factors, lifestyle practices, and demographic variables in two culturally diverse, community-based samples of White and Japanese American older adults. Design: The study was an analysis of data from two ongoing studies of aging and dementia in King County, Washington. Functional status at baseline was evaluated, and factors associated with functional decline over a 4-year follow-up period were identified. The sample included 1,083 Japanese American and 1,011 White cognitively intact, community-dwelling adults aged 65 and older, who had no functional limitations at baseline and participated in at least one follow-up examination. Results: In 4 years of follow-up, 70% of the subjects reported no increase in functional limitation, and fewer than 5% of subjects declined in five or more activities. Risk factors associated with functional decline included increased age, female gender, medical comorbidity (particularly cerebrovascular disease, arthritis, and hypertension), elevated body mass index, poorer self-perceived health, and smoking. Depression and diabetes were also significant for persons with the greatest functional decline over the 4-year follow-up. Japanese speakers were significantly less likely to decline over the follow-up period than White or English-speaking Japanese American subjects. However, Japanese speakers were more likely to discontinue participation during the follow-up period, and may also have been more likely to underreport symptoms of functional decline. Conclusions: The present study provides further support that healthy lifestyle practices and prevention of chronic disease are important for maintaining functional independence in older adults. Japanese-speaking subjects were less likely to decline over time, although this
could be due in part to differential dropout and reporting bias. These findings have important implications for the design and interpretation of longitudinal studies of older adults. Researchers interested in the effects of ethnicity on health and aging should be cognizant of differences in recruitment and enrollment strategies among studies, and the ways in which these affect study findings. This study also demonstrates the importance of devoting adequate resources to minimize dropouts, and of including measures of health and functioning that are culturally equivalent and less reliant on self-report data.
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