Interventions relieving the burden of caregiving may postpone or prevent patient institutionalization. The objective of this study was to determine whether a family meetings intervention was superior to usual care in postponing nursing home placement of patients with dementia.
A randomized multicenter trial was conducted among 192 patients with a clinical diagnosis of dementia living at home at enrolment and their primary family caregiver. Dyads of caregivers and patients were randomized to the family meetings intervention (n = 96) or usual care (n = 96) condition. The intervention consisted of two individual sessions with the primary caregiver and four family counseling sessions that included family members and friends. The primary outcome measure was the time until institutionalization of the patient. Intention-to-treat as well as per protocol analyses were performed. Survival analyses were carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention.
During 18 months follow-up 23 of 96 relatives with dementia of caregivers in the intervention group and 18 of 96 relatives with dementia of caregivers in the usual care group were institutionalized. No significant difference between the intervention and the usual care group was found in time until institutionalization (adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 1.46, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.78 to 2.74). The per-protocol analysis revealed no significant effect either (adjusted HR 0.57, 95% CI 0.21 to 1.57), although the number of placements among the adherers was relatively low (9.4%). A subgroup effect was found for patients’ age, with a significantly higher risk of institutionalization for ‘younger’ patients in the intervention group compared with the usual care group (adjusted HR = 4.94, 95% CI 1.10 to 22.13).
This family meetings intervention for primary caregivers of patients with dementia did not postpone patient institutionalization more than usual care.