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Internet-Based Caregiver Support for Chinese Canadians Taking Care of a Family Member with Alzheimer Disease and Related Dementia*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2009

Teresa Chiu*
COTA Health Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Elsa Marziali
Baycrest Rotman Research Institute Faculties of Medicine and Social Work, University of Toronto
Angela Colantonio
Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Anne Carswell
School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University
Marilyn Gruneir
COTA Health
Mary Tang
COTA Health
Gunther Eysenbach
Department of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, University of Toronto Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, University Health Network, Toronto
Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à : Teresa Chiu, Ph.D. Department of Rehabilitation Sciences The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hung Hom Kowloon Hong Kong China (


The aim of this study was to assess the usability of a new Internet-based Caregiver Support Service (ICSS) and evaluate its effects on health outcomes of Chinese Canadians who cared for a family member with dementia. Demographic and questionnaire data were collected from 28 participants, and in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 participants. Results showed that non-users reported higher levels of burden post-intervetion, and frequent users showed post-intervention reduction in experienced burden. Traditional beliefs shaped caregivers’ needs; also, ethno-cultural-linguistic contexts affected system usability and were associated with usage behaviour. This study indicates that caregivers can benefit from receiving professional support via asynchronous e-mails and a dedicated information web site. The ICSS is a feasible approach for supporting caregivers who prefer an alternative service model. This emerging service requires more research in: enhanced technology design, service delivery models for immigrant caregivers, and evaluation of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.


L’objectif de cette étude était d’évaluer la facilité d’utilisation d’un nouveau service de soutien pour personnel soignant basé sur Internet (ICSS) et d’évaluer ses effets sur la santé des Canadiens chinois qui ont soigné un membre de la famille atteinte de démence. Les données démogaphiques et de questionnaire ont été recueillies auprès de 28 participants, et des entrevues approfondies ont été realisées avec 10 participants. Les résultats ont démontré que ceux qui n’ont pas participé à ICSS ont revelé plus hauts niveaux de charge après l’intervention, lors que les participants fréquents a montré une réduction en charge après l’intervention. Les croyances traditionelles ont formées les besoins des soignants; de plus, les contextes ethnoculturelle-linquistiques ont touchées la facilité d’utilisation et ont été associées au comportement pendant l’utilisation. De même, l’utilisation d’ICSS a été influencée par la compétence informatique et par préferences linguistiques. Cette étude indique que les soignants peuvent bénéficier du soutien professionnel par e-mails asynchrones et un site Web dedié d’informations. L’ICSS est une approche possible pour soutenir les soignants qui préferent un modèle de service alternative. Ce service emergent nécessite plus de la recherche sur: la conception technologique amélioré, les modèles de prestation de services pour les immigrants soignants et l’évaluation de l’efficacité et rentabilité.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2009

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The study team would like to acknowledge the important contributions by the following people and organizations that made this study possible: Alzheimer Society of Canada, CIHR Fellowship, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Foundation; K.Y. Liu, Maria Choi, and Maria Chu of Yee Hong Center for Geriatric Care; family members who participated in the study; Rosana Chan and Crystal Tse who provided the online service; Andrew Bartle and Danielle Lottridge for usability and software engineering support; Xiaohong Song, William Wang, and Jason Yu for translation support; and Zahid Naseer for data analysis support.


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