Currently submitted to: JMIR mHealth and uHealth
Date Submitted: Jul 25, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Jul 29, 2019 - Sep 23, 2019
(currently open for review)
Mobile Health in Supporting the Elderly Caregivers: A Non-Randomized Controlled Pilot Study
As the population of Taiwan continues to age rapidly, middle-aged and elderly people will increasingly begin to care for their older relatives. Therefore, the responsibility and complexity of care required from family caregivers will increase. The mobile health technology (mHealth) model has been successfully applied to numerous care services.
To develop a mobile health app that supports family caregivers of various ages by meeting their home care needs, thus improving their quality of life, decreasing their severity of depression, and making them more empowered.
This study applied a nonrandomized control-group pretest–posttest design. Purposive sampling was employed to recruit 30 family caregivers—16 middle-aged and 14 old family caregivers—from the home care cases of a regional hospital in Taipei. The developed home care mHealth app was used for management and monitoring of patient health. The outcomes measured were quality of life, level of depression, and sense of empowerment.
The results indicated that use of the mHealth app improved the technology acceptance, quality of life, depression level, and empowerment of the family caregivers. The old caregivers obtained quality of life scores that were 2.23 points higher, on average, than those obtained by the middle-aged caregivers P = .01, a significant difference. On the quality of life questionnaire, the old caregivers’ obtained scores for the health and family factors that were 2.75 P = .01 and 2.49 P = .01 points higher, respectively, than those obtained by the middle-aged caregivers, indicating significant differences. Regarding empowerment and depression, the scores obtained at different time points indicated that both groups became more empowered and less depressed over time, but no significant differences were discovered between the two groups.
According to our results, using the home care mHealth app had a positive influence the app is concluded to be a favorable tool for care education and management. Old caregivers found the software useful for managing patients’ physiological data, and they wished that other assistive methods were available to help them understand the internal functions. The software contributes to quality of life improvement, a decrease in depression severity, and empowerment enhancement and can be used by family caregivers as a reference for home care management in the future.
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