E-care for caregivers: online self-management intervention for caregivers of depressed patients (WC2015-028)


Starting date: 01/12/2014


Non-professional caregivers are highly important in everyday life for depressed patients. The amount of time and finances invested by non-professional caregivers in depressed patients is virtually unattainable for professional healthcare alone. The Dutch government recognizes the strength of informal caregiving and has proceeded to place an even greater demand on non-professional caregivers.

However, informal caregiving also comes with certain drawbacks, such as the risk of overburdening. Informal caregivers experience more stress and anxiety, a reduction in quality of life, overburdening, and are at a higher risk of developing a depressive disorder and stress-related symptoms. Non-professional caregivers signal the high costs themselves in supporting and taking care of depressive persons. 80% Of informal caregivers express a need for more support. In particular, information, advice, support or guidance by a healthcare professional and peer contact is considered to be of importance according to informal caregivers.

Prevention research has demonstrated that early intervention is effective in preventing overburdening. However, these group interventions are time-consuming and often don’t fit into a caregivers’ already-too-full-agenda.

An accessible, online, self-management intervention for the non-professional caregiver of a depressive patient, aimed at increasing mental resilience and self-reliance, improving quality of life, preventing and/or decreasing experienced burden and preventing psychological disorders, may overcome these barriers. It can be accessed 24/7 in a location and timeframe that would be the most convenient for the caregiver. This intervention would also be relatively easy to implement on a larger scale in the general population with minimal costs.

Previous research demonstrated robust evidence that internet-based treatments can be effective for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. The effect sizes are comparable to those observed in face-to-face treatment. However, internet-based interventions have the potential to be more cost-effective than face-to-face treatment.