Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2023 Sep 13:10499091231200639. doi: 10.1177/10499091231200639. Online ahead of print.
Objective: Palliative care often plays a pivotal role in supporting informal caregivers of persons living with dementia who experience a lack of continuity in care. Dementia caregiver activation, the caregiver’s willingness and ability to navigate care needs, requires communication skills for developing relationships with healthcare providers. Communication activation is important because caregivers facilitate physician and patient information exchange. This study aimed to explore changes in communication outcomes (attitude, knowledge, and skills) and impact on caregiver communication activation (confidence, self-report) following completion of a brief communication module. Methods: A 15-minute asynchronous online module was developed to provide caregivers with communication skills for working with doctors and nurses. Caregivers completed pre/post module measures of communication outcomes, a vignette for applying communication strategies and were interviewed within a week of module completion to assess self-reported communication activation. Module acceptability was also evaluated. Results: Communication knowledge (P < .01) significantly increased and nearly all participants (99%) demonstrated use of module-specific communication skills after completing the module. While not statistically significant, caregiver attitudes were in the expected direction. Caregiver self-reported communication confidence (P < .001) significantly increased and 84% of caregivers described communication activation at post-module. Caregivers (83%) were likely to recommend the module. Conclusions: The brief communication module for dementia caregivers in this project offers an online resource with low time-burden that results in caregiver communication activation. Future testing in the clinical setting will increase understanding of its efficacy and integration and could be a viable resource for palliative care providers.