Developing a Management Guide (the DemPower App) for Couples Where One Partner Has Dementia: Nonrandomized Feasibility Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Therese Bielsten
  • James Schumm
  • Siobhan Theresa Reilly
  • Robyn Dowlen
  • Ingrid Hellström

Abstract

Background:
Promoting the health and well-being of couples where one partner has dementia is an overlooked area of care practice. Most postdiagnostic services currently lack a couple-centered approach and have a limited focus on the couple relationship. To help address this situation, we developed a tablet-based self-management guide (DemPower) focused on helping couples enhance their well-being and relationship quality.

Objective:
The aim of this study is to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of the DemPower app.

Methods:
A nonrandomized feasibility design was used to evaluate the DemPower intervention over 3 months among couples where a partner had a diagnosis of dementia. The study recruited 25 couples in the United Kingdom and 19 couples in Sweden. Outcome measures were obtained at baseline and postintervention. The study process and interventions were evaluated at various stages.

Results:
The study was completed by 48% (21/44) of couples where one partner had dementia, of whom 86% (18/21) of couples accessed all parts of the DemPower app. Each couple spent an average of 8 hours (SD 3.35 hours) using the app during the study period. In total, 90% (19/21) of couples reported that all sections of DemPower were useful in addressing various aspects of daily life and helped to focus on how they interacted in their relationship. Of the 4 core subjects on which the DemPower app was structured, home and neighborhood received the highest number of visits. Couples used activity sections more often than the core subject pages. The perception of DemPower’s utility varied with each couple’s lived experience of dementia, geographic location, relationship dynamics, and opportunities for social interaction. A 5.2-point increase in the dementia quality of life score for people with dementia and a marginal increase in the Mutuality scale (+1.23 points) for caregiver spouses were found. Design and navigational challenges were reported in the DemPower app.

Conclusions:
The findings suggest that the DemPower app is a useful resource for couples where one partner has dementia and that the implementation of the app requires the support of memory clinics to reach couples at early diagnosis.

Trial Registration:
ISRCTN Registry ISRCTN10122979; http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN10122979

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16824
JournalJMIR Aging
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2021