Office of Research & Development

VA RESEARCH QUARTERLY UPDATE
This Issue: The Aging Veteran | Table of Contents: Summer 2018 | Download this issue

Ongoing & New Studies

Using telehealth to help Veterans with dementia


VA researchers are developing a video-based intervention designed to improve the interpersonal skills of family members caring for Veterans with dementia. <em>(Photo ©iStock/Andrey Popov)</em>
VA researchers are developing a video-based intervention designed to improve the interpersonal skills of family members caring for Veterans with dementia. (Photo ©iStock/Andrey Popov)

VA researchers are developing a video-based intervention designed to improve the interpersonal skills of family members caring for Veterans with dementia. (Photo ©iStock/Andrey Popov)

Investigator: Cory K. Chen, Ph.D.; Funding period: May 2017–December 2018

As the number of Veterans with dementia increase, there will be greater demand on family caregivers. Caregiving, while potentially meaningful, has been associated with greater rates of depression, anxiety, and physical stress. A team of researchers at the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System will develop a telehealth intervention to improve conflict-management skills for caregivers of Veterans.

Dr. Cory Chen and colleagues will develop and test a video-based intervention that is designed to diagnose and improve interpersonal skills of family members caring for Veterans with dementia. They hope to lessen caregiver burn-out and reduce the number of Veterans who are ultimately institutionalized because of behavioral issues that are too challenging to manage at home.

In phase I, researchers will create a video-based observational coding manual (OCM) that will be used to evaluate the interpersonal skills of caregivers for Veterans with dementia. The manual will be developed with the aid of an advisory panel composed of individuals with expertise in family psychotherapy and caregiving. It will be based on previous manuals that were developed to assess interaction patterns in couples and families of people with dementia.

The team will then film 15 paired interactions between patients and caregivers, and together with five psychology trainees, will code interactions in each video using the OCM. Through this activity, they will assess the videos for validity and reliability, and also will judge the usefulness of the manual by interviewing caregivers, patients, and clinicians.

To accompany the completed OCM, the investigators will develop a training manual for a family intervention that will be tested via telehealth using the original patient-caregiver pairs.


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