Title

Exploring the benefits of Respite Services to Family Caregivers: Methodological issues and current Findings

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Aging and Mental Health

Volume

21

Issue

3

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Publication Date

1-5-2016

First Page

224

Last Page

231

DOI

10.1080/13607863.2015.1128881

Abstract

Objectives: There is growing emphasis on empirical validation of the efficacy of community-based services for older people and their families, but research on services such as respite care faces methodological challenges that have limited the growth of outcome studies. We identify problems associated with the usual research approaches for studying respite care, with the goal of stimulating use of novel and more appropriate research designs that can lead to improved studies of community-based services. Method: Using the concept of research validity, we evaluate the methodological approaches in the current literature on respite services, including adult day services, in-home respite and overnight respite. Results: Although randomized control trials (RCTs) are possible in community settings, validity is compromised by practical limitations of randomization and other problems. Quasi-experimental and interrupted time series designs offer comparable validity to RCTs and can be implemented effectively in community settings. Conclusion: An emphasis on RCTs by funders and researchers is not supported by scientific evidence. Alternative designs can lead to development of a valid body of research on community services such as respite.

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