Background: Self-management equips people to manage the symptoms and lifestyle changes that occur in long-term health conditions; however, there is limited evidence about its effectiveness for people with early-stage dementia. This pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) explored the feasibility of a self-management intervention for people with early-stage dementia.
Methods: The participants were people with early-stage dementia (n = 24) and for each participant a caregiver also took part. Participants were randomly allocated to either an eight-week self-management group intervention or treatment as usual (TAU). Assessments were conducted at baseline, three months and six months post-randomization by a researcher blind to group allocation. The primary outcome measure was self-efficacy score at three months.
Results: Thirteen people with dementia were randomized to the intervention and 11 to TAU. Two groups were run, the first consisting of six people with dementia and the second of seven people with dementia. There was a small positive effect on self-efficacy with the intervention group showing gains in self-efficacy compared to the TAU group at three months (d = 0.35), and this was maintained at six months (d = 0.23). In terms of intervention acceptability, attrition was minimal, adherence was good, and satisfaction ratings were high. Feedback from participants was analyzed with content analysis. The findings suggest the positive aspects of the intervention were that it fostered independence and reciprocity, promoted social support, offered information, and provided clinician support.
Conclusions: This study has provided preliminary evidence that self-management may be beneficial for people with early-stage dementia.