Parent caregivers of children who require life-saving technology such as mechanical ventilation or feeding tubes must maintain a high level of vigilance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They report greater levels of stress, compromised self-management behaviors and poorer psychological and physical health than other caregiver groups which dramatically increases their mortality risk. Technology-dependent children (approximately 600,000) are among the sickest and most vulnerable subset of children with complex chronic conditions in the United States. They comprise 20% of all children discharged from the hospital to home, yet account for 61% of healthcare spending for children, up to $110 billion annually. Despite the adverse consequences for caregivers, there are no interventions to meet their specific needs. Resourcefulness Training, (cognitive-behavioral self-management intervention) has been shown to improve psychological and physical outcomes, mediate the effects of stress, and enhance the care provided to care-recipients. A Resourcefulness Training Intervention (RTI) will be tested in a randomized trial against an attention control group. The RTI includes face-to-face session for teaching social (help-seeking) and personal (self-help) resourcefulness skills, ongoing web access to the RTI video and video vignettes of caregivers of technology- dependent children describing resourcefulness skill application in daily life, 4 weeks of skills' reinforcement using daily journal writing, weekly phone calls for the first 4 weeks, and booster sessions at 2 and 4 months post enrollment. The Attention Control group will receive weekly phone calls for the first 4 weeks and at 2 and 4 months post enrollment plus any usual care.
The aims of the study are to: 1) Determine whether the RTI versus Attention Control improves psychological (mental HRQoL depressive cognitions, depressive symptoms, appraised stress, burden) and physical outcomes (physical HRQoL, chronic stress [hair cortisol]) over 9 months in parents of technology-dependent children, after controlling for covariates (parent race/ethnicity and gender, family income, and children's functional status, type of technology). 2) Determine whether changes in psychological and physical outcomes are mediated by changes in parents' levels of resourcefulness based on intervention condition. 3) Compare self-management behavior (sleep, positive health practices) over 9 months in parents who received RTI versus Attention Control. 4) Explore whether resourcefulness is a mediator between intervention condition and self-management behaviors controlling for baseline self-management behavior over 9 months. 5) Explore the relationship between self-management behavior and parent psychological and physical outcomes based on intervention condition. Our study will be the first to test a cognitive-behavioral RTI for this caregiver population. 6) Compare target children's ER visits, hospital days over 9 months based on parent intervention condition. If shown to be efficacious, it can be replicated with other caregivers of children with complex chronic conditions with strong potential for translation into practice.

Public Health Relevance

Parent caregivers of children with chronic conditions who require life-saving technology such as mechanical ventilation or feeding tubes must maintain a high level of vigilance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They usually provide a majority of their children's care and are often overwhelmed by the caregiving demands thus neglect health promotion behaviors that result in a deterioration of their own mental and physical health. The goal of this study is to test an intervention that will improve these caregivers' mental and physical health and health promotion behaviors while they continue to provide vital care for these vulnerable children.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Huss, Karen
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Case Western Reserve University
Schools of Nursing
United States
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