Date of Award:

8-2020

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Human Development and Family Studies

Committee

Elizabeth B. Fauth

Committee

Yin Liu

Committee

David Schramm

Abstract

Family caregivers for people with dementia are providing care for up to ten years because people with dementia are living longer. This role can be demanding because the person with dementia can have behavioral and psychological symptoms that can be stressful for the caregiver to witness and manage. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in its traditional face-to-face format has strong scientific support in helping caregivers to be less depressed and better cope with the stress associated with taking care of their loved one. However, because caregiving is a time-demanding role, caregivers can struggle with accessing face-to-face therapy, making online ACT a flexible option. This study evaluated the first-known web-based ACT for caregivers. Previous data collected for this study showed that caregivers improved in their wellbeing and use of ACT-related skills. Caregivers completed 10 sessions that taught ACT concepts and skills, and for each session they reflected on how much effort they put into practicing the ACT skill from the previous session and how helpful they thought it was. This thesis investigated if those effort and helpfulness ratings were related to lower stress reactions to behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, increased values-based living (a central goal of ACT), and continual use of ACT skills after finishing the program. Findings indicated that effort and helpfulness ratings were not related to most outcomes, but caregivers did put significant effort into the sessions and found them helpful. Suggestions are given for future programs to check for comprehension and use of ACT skills throughout the program and for refresher messages to be given after program completion.

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e43be16050d1ddd1d1c3f37abbf0c101

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