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Establishing the Feasibility and Acceptability of a Caregiver Targeted Intervention to Improve Pain Assessment Among Persons With Dementia

Innov Aging. 2023 Jul 13;7(10):igad074. doi: 10.1093/geroni/igad074. eCollection 2023.


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Despite its prevalence and impact, pain is underdetected and undermanaged in persons with dementia. Family caregivers are well positioned to detect pain and facilitate its management in their care recipients, but they lack training in symptom recognition and communication. This study reports findings from a pilot trial evaluating the Pain Identification and Communication Toolkit (PICT), a multicomponent intervention that provides training in observational pain assessment and coaching in pain communication techniques.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Family caregivers of persons with comorbid pain and moderate-to-advanced dementia were randomly assigned to PICT (n = 19) or a control condition (n = 15). Caregivers in the PICT group participated in four weekly sessions delivered by telephone with a trained interventionist; caregivers in the control group received an information pamphlet about pain and dementia. All participants completed surveys at baseline and 12 weeks. Caregivers in the intervention group also completed semistructured interviews at 12 weeks. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and t tests; qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis.

RESULTS: All participants (100%) in the PICT group completed the intervention and most completed the 12-week assessment (94%). PICT randomized caregivers reported that the intervention helped them to feel more confident in their ability to recognize (67%) and communicate about pain symptoms (83%). At 12 weeks, caregivers in the PICT group showed a statistically significant improvement in self-efficacy in pain-related communication. In qualitative interviews, caregivers emphasized the utility of PICT’s components, including pain assessment tools, and offered considerations for future enhancements, such as technology-based adaptations and integration within care delivery systems.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: This pilot trial demonstrates that PICT is feasible to implement, acceptable to caregivers, and has the potential to improve confidence in recognizing and communicating about pain. Results support conducting a fully powered efficacy trial, an important step toward future integration into real-world care delivery.


PMID:38094933 | PMC:PMC10714902 | DOI:10.1093/geroni/igad074

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