Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for family carers of people with dementia: A feasibility study of a new mode of delivery (iACT4CARERS)

This research project funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) was carried out in the UK and completed in 2021.

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Feasibility trial findings

What we found

The feasibility study funded by NIHR was successful with more than 100 potential participants (family carers of people with dementia) being referred to the study in just six months. Thirty-three eligible participants received online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), more than we had originally planned.

More than 70% of participants completed seven or all eight online sessions. There was preliminary evidence of improvements in scores of anxiety and depression following the intervention, perhaps more so for anxiety.

Individual interviews with participants highlighted that they liked the ACT techniques, the user-friendliness of the online system and feedback received from their dedicated online therapist.

Participants also expressed that the intervention led to some improvements in their life such as making them feel it is okay to ask for help and make some time for themselves. The findings revealed that participants also noticed increased meaningful activities such as more exercises to take care of themselves following the intervention.

Take away points

  1. ACT for family carers of people with dementia can be delivered online within NHS services.
  2. The intervention may help cope with carer anxiety and depression, perhaps more so for anxiety.
  3. The intervention may lead to some improvements in life such as making family carers feel it is okay to ask for help and make some time for themselves to engage in meaningful activities.

What’s Next?

  • A large-scale trial is now required to evaluate the effectiveness of online ACT and find out whether online ACT should be widely implemented.
  • The research team will use the findings from this pilot work and apply for a large grant to conduct a large-scale trial.

Information: This page presents independent research funded by the NIHR under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-0418-20001). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Norwich Research park, NR4 7TJ