Teleconferencing as a source of social support for older spousal caregivers: Initial explorations and recommendations for future research
McHugh JE., Wherton JP., Prendergast DK., Lawlor BA.
Teleconferencing is increasingly being used as a medium of delivering social support for dementia caregivers. Further direction is required from pilot studies before the optimal clinical service can be delivered. Following a 6-week pilot support group for spousal caregivers, delivered via teleconferencing software, we interviewed 8 participants for their feedback. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analyzed using grounded theory analysis. Themes of "group processes" and "barriers," containing subcategories of "functions of the group," "responsibilities of facilitators," and "barriers to communication" were discussed. According to caregivers, successful teleconferencing support groups should acknowledge the caregiver as the dementia expert, allow participants to meet before the deployment of the support group, provide active facilitation and leadership via the researcher, employ user-friendly technologies, and facilitate for the group to self-maintain following the pilot deployment period. These issues should be taken into consideration when designing future teleconferencing applications for caregivers. © 2012 The Author(s).