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The Gerontologist 44:836-843 (2004)
© 2004 The Gerontological Society of America

Development and Pilot Evaluation of a Psychosocial Intervention Program for Patients With Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Tanja Birk, MA1, Susanne Hickl, MA1, Hans-Werner Wahl, PhD2,, Daniel Miller, PhD3, Annette Kämmerer, PhD1, Frank Holz, PhD3, Stefanie Becker, PhD2 and Hans E. Völcker, PhD3

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Hans-Werner Wahl, PhD, German Center for Research on Aging at the University of Heidelberg, Bergheimer Strausse 20, Heidelberg, D-69115, Germany. E-mail: wahl{at}

Purpose: The psychosocial needs of patients suffering from severe visual loss associated with advanced age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) are generally ignored in the clinical routine. The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a psychosocial intervention program for ARMD patients. This intervention program was based on six modules carried out in five weekly group sessions. These modules included (a) progressive muscle relaxation; (b) exchange of disease-related experiences; (c) understanding the connections among thought, emotion, and behavior; (d) description of and emphasis on the use of available resources; (e) improvement of general problem-solving skills, and (f) information exchange on ARMD-related treatment and rehabilitation options. Design and Methods: A preliminary evaluation of this intervention program was performed with the aid of a preintervention–postintervention comparison-group research design, which included 14 individuals (mean age of 73.1 years) in the interventional group and 8 participants (mean age of 72.6 years) in the comparison group. The preintervention–postintervention assessment addressed a set of emotional (e.g., positive and negative affect) as well as behavioral (e.g., limitations to activities and instrumental activities of daily living) outcome measures. Results: Although the sample size of the pilot evaluation test was small, our results demonstrate the usefulness of this pilot program. A statistical analysis comparing the interventional group with the comparison group revealed that the intervention group benefited from the program in five out of six outcome measures. Implications: Psychosocial group intervention is a promising approach to improve the quality of life in patients suffering from ARMD.

Key Words: Age-related low vision • Age-related macular degeneration • Psychosocial group intervention • Quality of life

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[Abstract] [PDF]

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Copyright © 2004 by The Gerontological Society of America.