Effects of an Assistive Technology Intervention on Older Adults with Disabilities and Their Informal Caregivers: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Objective

The aim of this study was to demonstrate experimentally that an assistive technology (AT) intervention improves older AT users’ activity performance and satisfaction with activity performance and decreases their caregivers’ sense of burden.

Design

This study was a delayed intervention, randomized control trial. Baseline data were collected on 44 community-dwelling AT user-caregiver dyads in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Montreal, Quebec. The primary outcome measures for AT users were the satisfaction and accomplishment scales from the Assessment of Life Habits. The primary outcome measure for caregivers was the Caregiver Assistive Technology Outcome Measure, which assessed burden associated with dyad-identified problematic activities.

Results

After the intervention, assistance users in the immediate intervention group reported significantly increased satisfaction with activity performance (P < 0.001) and improved accomplishment scores (P = 0.014). Informal caregivers in the immediate intervention group experienced significantly decreased burden with the dyad-identified problematic activity (P = 0.013). Participants in the delayed intervention group experienced similar benefits after the intervention. Improvements for both groups were mostly maintained 4 mos after the conclusion of the intervention.

Conclusions

This is the first experimental study to demonstrate that the provision of AT decreases caregiver burden. If confirmed and extended by subsequent research, the findings have significant policy and practice implications and may enable health care providers to advocate for improved access to AT provision and the related follow-up services.

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