Acceptability and Feasibility of a Socially Enhanced, Self-Guided, Positive Emotion Regulation Intervention for Caregivers of Individuals With Dementia: Pilot Intervention Study

Ian Kwok*, Emily Gardiner Lattie, Dershung Yang, Amanda Summers, Veronika Grote, Paul Cotten, Judith Tedlie Moskowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The responsibilities of being a primary caregiver for a loved one with dementia can produce significant stress for the caregiver, leading to deleterious outcomes for the caregiver’s physical and psychological health. Hence, researchers are developing eHealth interventions to provide support for caregivers. Members of our research team previously developed and tested a positive emotion regulation intervention that we delivered through videoconferencing, in which caregiver participants would meet one-on-one with a trained facilitator. Although proven effective, such delivery methods have limited scalability because they require significant resources in terms of cost and direct contact hours. Objective: This study aimed to conduct a pilot test of a socially enhanced, self-guided version of the positive emotion regulation intervention, Social Augmentation of Self-Guided Electronic Delivery of the Life Enhancing Activities for Family Caregivers (SAGE LEAF). Studies have shown that social presence or the perception of others in a virtual space is associated with enhanced learning and user satisfaction. Hence, the intervention leverages various social features (eg, discussion boards, podcasts, videos, user profiles, and social notifications) to foster a sense of social presence among participants and study team members. Methods: Usability, usefulness, feasibility, and acceptability data were collected from a pilot test in which participants (N=15) were given full access to the SAGE LEAF intervention over 6 weeks and completed preintervention and postintervention assessments (10/15, 67%). Preliminary outcome measures were also collected, with an understanding that no conclusions about efficacy could be made, because our pilot study did not have a control group and was not sufficiently powered. Results: The results suggest that SAGE LEAF is feasible, with participants viewing an average of 72% (SD 42%) of the total available intervention web pages. In addition, acceptability was found to be good, as demonstrated by participants’ willingness to recommend the SAGE LEAF program to a friend or other caregiver. Applying Pearson correlational analyses, we found moderate, positive correlation between social presence scores and participants’ willingness to recommend the program to others (r9=0.672; P=.03). We also found positive correlation between social presence scores and participants’ perceptions about the overall usefulness of the intervention (r9=0.773; P=.009). This suggests that participants’ sense of social presence may be important for the feasibility and acceptability of the program. Conclusions: In this pilot study, the SAGE LEAF intervention demonstrates potential for broad dissemination for dementia caregivers. We aim to incorporate participant feedback about how the social features may be improved in future iterations to enhance usability and to further bolster a sense of social connection among participants and study staff members. Next steps include partnering with dementia clinics and other caregiver-serving organizations across the United States to conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number46269
JournalJMIR Aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • caregiving
  • coping
  • dementia
  • digital interventions
  • eHealth
  • positive emotion
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • Health Informatics


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