To deliver more efficient self-help and technology-based psychological interventions to informal caregivers, time flexibility and personal retention approaches should be considered to prevent a high rate of dropout. Flexible timing (i.e., self-paced instruction) and personal retention approaches, such as embedding a component of social support/interaction in the form of informational support (e.g., guidance) and/or emotional support (e.g., peer support), showed lower attrition and higher rates of engagement and satisfaction in various self-help and technology-based psychological interventions for informal caregivers.
Explanation and Examples:
A systematic search was conducted into the use of psychological interventions based on acceptance and commitment therapy for informal caregivers of people with dementia or other long-term or chronic conditions. A total of 7896 abstracts and 33 full texts were read, resulting in 21 studies involving a narrative synthesis. Quantitative and qualitative data showed that flexible interventions are more amenable to caregivers’ lives. Further, social or interpersonal support in various modalities (e.g., automated messaging, reminders, personal touch) might promote motivation for, uptake of and engagement in interventions. Therefore, future technology-based interventions, particularly in the form of self-help that requires little or no therapist resources, might benefit from time flexibility and embedded social support components (e.g., peer support or motivational coaching). Furthermore, employing mixed methods or embedded qualitative components. (e.g., semi-structured interviews) might provide further insight into This is what a user of a particular product experiences when using that product, in terms of usability, accessibility, and desirability. (Abbreviated as UX), potentially supporting decisions related to intervention design. Uncovering and preventing factors associated with high rates of dropouts will lead to more effective, adaptive and individualised interventions.
ThemesAcceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Dementia Informal carers Long-term condition Systematic review Technology-based intervention
Target groupsIndustry evaluating psychological outcomes of online support Researchers designing and evaluating online (self-help) psychological interventions
Type of evidence
Systematic literature review
Atefi, G., M.E. De Vugt, Van Knippenberg, R.J.M., Levin, M.E., Verhey, F.R.J.1, Bartels, S.L. The use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in informal caregivers of people with dementia and other long-term or chronic conditions: A systematic review and conceptual integration. Clinical Psychology Review (under revision).