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Professional discipline and support recommendations for family caregivers of persons with dementia

  • Joseph E. Gaugler (a1), Bonnie L. Westra (a2) and Robert L. Kane (a3)

Family caregivers of persons with dementia often require support services to help ease the challenges of providing care. Although the efficacy of some dementia caregiver interventions seems apparent, evidence indicating which types of protocols can best meet the diverse needs of individual families is not yet available. Because of this gap, families must often turn to professionals for such guidance, but it remains unknown whether professionals from different disciplines are more inclined to recommend particular types of services than others. This study assessed whether recommendations of supportive interventions to hypothetical dementia family caregivers differed by professional discipline.


In a cross-sectional survey design, a convenience sample of 422 dementia care professionals across the USA viewed up to 24 randomly selected, hypothetical scenarios that systematically varied characteristics of persons with dementia and their caregivers. For each scenario, 7 possible intervention recommendations were rated. A total of 6,890 scenarios were rated and served as the unit of analysis.


General linear models revealed that discipline was often a stronger predictor of how likely professionals were to recommend dementia caregiver interventions than caregiver, care recipient, or other professional characteristics. Psychotherapists tended to recommend psychoeducation more than other professionals, while those in medicine were more likely to recommend training of the person with dementia and psychotherapy.


The heterogeneity in recommendations suggests that the professional source of information influences the types of support families are directed toward. Empirical evidence should inform these professional judgments to better achieve person-centered care for families.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: Joseph E. Gaugler, PhD, Center on Aging, School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, 6-153 Weaver-Densford Hall, 1331, 308 Harvard Street S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. Phone: 612-626-2485; Fax: 612-625-7180. Email:
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International Psychogeriatrics
  • ISSN: 1041-6102
  • EISSN: 1741-203X
  • URL: /core/journals/international-psychogeriatrics
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