A Compendium of Intervention and Descriptive Studies Designed to Promote the Health of Caregivers for Older Adults. Health First Study: Caregivers Take Time to Stay Active


Sponsors. National Institute on Aging.

Purpose. This research project is designed to develop, implement, and evaluate a telephone-based counseling intervention to promote physical activity among female caregivers whose spouses have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder (ADRD).

Description. The specific aims of the research are to (1) develop a curriculum for a telephone-based counseling intervention to promote physical activity; (2) conduct a field test of the intervention with 200 randomly selected intervention and control group participants recruited primarily from spouse caregivers of patients seen at the Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center; (3) evaluate the process of implementing the intervention, including the extent to which the delivered activities fit the original design and factors external to the program that competed with program effects; and (4) evaluate the impact of a telephone-based intervention on caregiver physical health, physical activity, self-efficacy for physical activity, depression, and caregiver burden at 12-month follow-up.16

The intervention has been implemented as follows. First, caregivers speak with a behavior-change counselor to set an individualized exercise goal to achieve by the end of the project period. During subsequent telephone calls, participants set short-term goals and used problem-solving skills to address barriers to success. Options for home-based exercise are provided, but participants are also free to join group exercise programs to meet their personal goals.16

Results-to-Date. The first three specific aims of the project have been completed. Data analysis, including assessment of the impact of the intervention at 12-month follow-up, is in the final stage of completion.

Next Steps. Four manuscripts will be submitted for publication within the next few months. In addition, the principal investigator will submit a grant application to replicate the Health First project with other groups of dementia caregivers (e.g., adult children and older men). The proposed replication will offer a variety of caregiver interventions in addition to physical activity, such as weight and stress management programs.

Contact Person.

Cathleen M. Connell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Health Behavior and Health Education
School of Public Health
University of Michigan
1420 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029
Phone: (734) 647-3189
Fax: (734) 763-7379
Email: Cathleen@umich.edu

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