Development and Initial Evaluation of the Web-Based Self-Management Program "Partner in Balance" for Family Caregivers of People With Early Stage Dementia: An Exploratory Mixed-Methods Study

Lizzy M. M. Boots*, Marjolein E. de Vugt, Hanneke E. J. Withagen, G.I.J.M. Kempen, Frans R. J. Verhey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: People with dementia increasingly depend on informal caregivers. Internet-based self-management interventions hold considerable promise for meeting the educational and support needs of early stage dementia caregivers (EDCs) at a reduced cost. Objective: This study aimed to (1) develop an online self-management program for EDC to increase self-efficacy and goal attainment, and (2) evaluate the program's feasibility and report preliminary data on effectiveness. Methods: Based on the Medical Research Council (MRC) framework for the development and evaluation of complex interventions, a stepwise approach was adopted to explore potential user needs and develop and validate the content by means of (1) focus group discussions with dementia caregivers (N=28), (2) interviews with dementia care professionals (N=11), and (3) individual think-aloud usability tests with EDC (N=2) and experts (N=2). A pilot evaluation was conducted with EDC (N=17) to test the feasibility and establish preliminary effects. Self-report measures of feasibility were completed after the completion of intervention. Self-efficacy and goal attainment were evaluated before and after the intervention. Results: The different steps provided useful information about the needs of potential users regarding the content and delivery of the program. This resulted in the newly developed "Partner in Balance" program. At the start, system failures resulted in a high noncompleter rate (7/17, 41%), but at the end, an acceptable feasibility score of 209 (range 54-234) was found. The convenience of completing the program at home, the tailored content, and the guidance (face-to-face and online) were appraised positively. Preliminary effects on caregiver self-efficacy (P50) were promising. Conclusions: Adaptations were made to the program to limit the amount of system failures and prevent high noncompleter rates. As recommended by the MRC framework, confirming the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness is a valuable step toward examining the effectiveness of this newly developed intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere33
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • carers
  • dementia
  • focus groups
  • Internet
  • psychosocial support systems

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