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The Gerontologist 43:547-555 (2003)
© 2003 The Gerontological Society of America

Primary Care Interventions for Dementia Caregivers: 2-Year Outcomes From the REACH Study

Robert Burns, MD1,, Linda O. Nichols, PhD2, Jennifer Martindale-Adams, EdD3, Marshall J. Graney, PhD3 and Allan Lummus, MA3

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Robert Burns, VAMC (11-H), 1030 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104. E-mail: jmartindale{at}

Purpose: This study developed and tested two 24-month primary care interventions to alleviate the psychological distress suffered by the caregivers of those with Alzheimer's disease. The interventions, using targeted educational materials, were patient behavior management only, and patient behavior management plus caregiver stress–coping management. We hypothesized that the addition of the stress–coping component would improve caregiver outcomes. Design and Methods: A randomized clinical trial of 167 caregiver–care recipient dyads was run, of whom 76 completed the study without bereavement or placement. Results: During 24 months, caregivers who received the patient behavior management component only, compared with those who also received the stress–coping component, had significantly worse outcomes for general well-being and a trend toward increased risk of depression (i.e., a score of >16 on the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale). There was a studywide improvement for bother associated with care recipient behaviors (according to the Revised Memory and Behavior Problems Checklist). Implications: Our data suggest that brief primary care interventions may be effective in reducing caregiver distress and burden in the long-term management of the dementia patient. They further suggest that interventions that focus only on care recipient behavior, without addressing caregiving issues, may not be as adequate for reducing caregiver distress.

Key Words: Alzheimer's disease • Frail elders • Memory disorders

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