The overall objectives of this project were to evaluate whether psychosocial outcomes in employed family caregivers of people with chronic disease, who participate in online support, differ from nonactive participants and whether psychosocial outcomes differ based on the format of online group support. A randomized longitudinal design comparing two types of online support groups and nonactive participants, on the basis of three principal measures, was utilized. Eighty-six self-reported family caregivers of people with chronic disease, who spoke English and had Internet access, took part in the study. Subjects were randomly assigned to professionally facilitated/psychoeducational or moderated/peer-directed online support groups for a period of 12 weeks. The setting was a password-protected Web page housed on a university server. Independent variables were type of online support groups and level of participation; the dependent variables were depressive symptoms, caregiver burden, and caregiver quality of life. There were significant differences in depressive symptoms and quality of life among nonactive participants and either of the two intervention groups, but not between the two intervention groups. Results suggest that professionally facilitated/psychoeducational and moderated/peer-directed online support groups help reduce depressive symptoms and improve quality of life for those who actively participate and that both types of online support groups provided similar benefits. Men and minorities should be targeted in future caregiver research.
Author Affiliations: School of Nursing, University of Delaware (Drs Klemm, Hayes, and Diefenbeck); and College of Health Sciences & Delaware Rehabilitation Institute, 25 N. College Ave. University of Delaware (Dr Milcarek), Newark, DE.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Barry Milcarek, PhD.
This project was partially supported by a grant from the American Nurses Foundation.
The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.
Corresponding author: Paula R. Klemm, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, 25 N. College Ave. University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716 (firstname.lastname@example.org).