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Factors associated with caregiver readiness to use nonpharmacologic strategies to manage dementia-related behavioral symptoms


  • Laura N. Gitlin,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Community Public Health, School of Nursing, Joint Appointments, Department of Psychiatry, and Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology, School of Medicine, Director, Center for Innovative Care in Aging, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
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  • Karen Rose

    1. Department of Psychology, Widener University, Chester, PA, USA
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Nonpharmacologic strategies to manage dementia-related behavioral symptoms depend upon caregiver implementation. Caregivers may vary in readiness to use strategies. We examined characteristics associated with readiness, extent readiness changed during intervention, and predictors of change in readiness.


Data came from a randomized trial involving 119 caregivers in a nonpharmacologic intervention for managing behavioral symptoms. Baseline measures included caregiver, patient, and treatment-related factors. At initial (2 weeks from baseline) and final (16 weeks) intervention sessions, interventionists rated caregiver readiness as pre-action (precontemplation = 1; contemplation = 2; preparation = 3) or action (= 4). Ordinal logistic regression identified baseline characteristics associated with initial readiness. Mc Nemar–Bowker test of symmetry described change in readiness; binary logistic regression identified baseline predictors of change in readiness (initial to final sessions). One-way multivariate analysis of variance identified treatment factors (dose/intensity, number of strategies used, perceived benefits, and therapeutic engagement) associated with change in readiness.


At initial intervention session, 67.2% (N = 80) of caregivers were in pre-action and 32.8% (N = 39) in action. Initial high readiness was associated with better caregiver mood, less financial difficulty, lower patient cognition, and more behavioral symptoms. By final session, 72% (N = 79) were in action and 28% (N = 31) in pre-action; caregivers with less financial difficulty improved in readiness (B = −0.70, p = 0.017); those in action were more therapeutically engaged (F[2,107] = 3.61, p = 0.030) and perceived greater intervention benefits (F[2, 88] = 6.06, p = 0.003).


Whereas patient and caregiver-related factors were associated with initial readiness, financial stability, therapeutic engagement, and perceived benefits enhanced probability of change. Understanding caregiver readiness and factors associated with its change may be important considerations in nonpharmacologic interventions. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.