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Author

Jenn Salfi

Date of Award

9-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Health Sciences

Supervisor

Jenny Ploeg

Abstract

Telephone support is an intervention that is capable of delivering information, education, and psychosocial support to informal caregivers of persons with dementia. However, there has been very little research published examining the intervention of telephone support and its effect on the caregiving experience. A critical review of the literature revealed little information about the dimensions of telephone support and the experiences of those who receive and provide this intervention. Qualitative research is needed to achieve an enhanced understanding of telephone support services, and to understand the perspectives of those involved in this service. This thesis describes a qualitative case study seeking to understand the intervention of telephone support for caregivers of persons with dementia. In-depth interviews were conducted with eight dementia caregivers and four telephone support providers. The dimensions of telephone support identified were information, referral, emotional support, and convenience. The experiences of caregivers with this intervention revealed the sense of companionship offered through telephone support. The experiences of the providers revealed telephone support as a means to assist and empower caregivers to meet their needs for information, referral, and emotional support. The professionals also described some of the frustrations experienced when providing this form of support. After interpreting the data on the dimensions of the caregiving experience and the intervention of telephone support, it was evident how such an intervention can impact the dementia caregiving experience. Not only does telephone support conveniently meet the needs of caregivers, but it helps to minimize negative outcomes such as loneliness and role isolation, and helps foster positive outcomes such as mastery and self esteem. This new knowledge has implications for the planning and delivery of telephone support that will meet the individualized needs of caregivers of persons with dementia.

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