Primary Menu

Education, Events, Publication

Funding & Recognition

Supporting Family Caregivers: Evaluating the Feasibility of App-Delivered Coaching

Summer 2023

Project Background

Caregivers to the 5.7 million persons in the United States with Alzheimer's Disease are susceptible to adverse physical and mental health outcomes, given the often prolonged and challenging care and support they provide to patients in their homes and community. Respite (defined as "time away from caregiving") is the most often requested service by caregivers. Our project uses a community-engaged design process and a scientifically-rigorous pilot study to evaluate an technology-delivered intervention (an app) to coach caregivers on how to maximize the benefits associated with respite time. This type of online-delivered intervention is inherently scalable to real world practice and is expected to help caregivers maintain their overall wellbeing over time, so they can continue providing the estimated 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care with an annual economic value of $232 billion. This project has been funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

Student Role

A student researcher will work with the Time for Living and Caring (TLC) research team to analyze the data we have collected from the pilot study and to help prepare manuscripts related to this project. All data have now been collected, so the student would be involved in doing statistical analyses, conducting literature reviews, and writing research manuscripts along with the research team. The student will work independently on some tasks, and alongside team members on other tasks. Thus, there is flexibility in work hours and scheduling.

Student Learning Outcomes and Benefits

The student who works on this project will gain training and experience:

  • doing quantitative or qualitative analyses
  • conducting literature reviews
  • engaging in the writing, revision, and submission process for academic manuscripts (publications)
  • about research methods, including research designs, development of behavioral interventions, dissemination and implementation of research into policy and practice
  • identifying the needs of family caregivers in our community, and thinking about how evidence-informed policy and programs may help support these invaluable (yet invisible and unpaid) members of our health care system in the United States

Rebecca Utz

Social & Behavioral Science

I am a life course sociologist, embracing the interdisciplinary traditions of demography and gerontology. My substantive research focuses on issues of health and aging in America.  More specifically, I am interested in how families cope with the end-of-life experience, including widowhood and caregiving.  I am also interested in how families manage chronic conditions and familial health risks of their family, with a particular interest in caregivers to persons with Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias. My work has involved primary data collection (surveys & qualitative interviews), creation and implementation of intervention studies, and statistical analysis of large population-based data sets.

As a mentor, I like to meet the student where they are and identify shared goals that benefit the student's professional development and the needs of the project. I want this mentored activity to be mutually beneficial. The undergraduate student will become a member of the team, comprised of a grad student, research administration staff, and faculty from multiple disciplines. As a mentor, I will provide opportunities for general guidance and discussion about the student's professional development needs and exploration to support the student's career aspirations.