184924 Caregiver Criteria for Useful Assistive Technology Information

Monday, October 27, 2008: 9:30 AM

Fred Miller, PhD , Layton Alzheimer's Center, Portland, OR
Deborah C. Messecar, PhD MPH , Oregon Master of Public Health, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Purpose & Methods: Assistive technology can make caregiving easier. However, a lack of information about what types of technology are available and how they can be obtained, and or installed (Messecar, 2004) has been identified by caregivers as a barrier to using this strategy. This qualitative descriptive study used 9 different focus group interviews to describe caregivers' satisfaction with their current sources of information regarding assistive technology and to examine caregivers' reactions to three possible formats for receiving information about assistive technology: catalogs, infomercials, and web-based shopping. Forty-three caregivers of older persons with chronic conditions associated with physical, cognitive, or mixed impairments participated in the interviews in which alternative formats for learning about assistive technology were demonstrated.

Results: Caregivers judged the utility of the information provided according to several criteria. Information was: specific for the type of problem they were trying to solve, adequate to judge the fit for the older person, produced by a credible source, can be searched or accessed quickly, only a limited number of well-suited options are presented, and is available just in time when it is needed. Positive comments about catalog formats were that the format was familiar and they were relatively easy to obtain. Limitations were the lack of tailoring to the specific problem and an overabundance of irrelevant information is sometimes presented. Videotaped infomercials improved caregivers' ability to judge the fit to the older person, but concerns were expressed about the credibility of the source if manufacturers produce the information. Web-based information searching was not an option for a large number of the caregivers participating in the interviews because of lack of access to and skill with using the Internet.

Conclusions: The source of information caregivers found most useful was provided by experts such as occupational therapists, experienced case managers, and or other more experienced caregivers. However, many caregivers reported this source of information was not available to them. Implications are that currently employed information dissemination strategies do not meet caregivers' needs.

Learning Objectives:
1. List criteria family caregivers use to identify useful information about assistive technology. 2. Based on the criteria, develop strategies for formatting information about assistive technology.

Keywords: Caregivers, Home Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: N/A

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an associate professor of nursing at OHSU and conducted this study with funds from the American Nurses Foundation
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.