Introduction: Caregiver support groups effectively reduce stress from caring for someone with dementia. These same demands can prevent participation in a group. The present feasibility study investigated a virtual online caregiver support group to bring the support group into the home. While online groups have been shown to be helpful, submissions to a message board (vs. live conversation) can feel impersonal. Method: By using avatars, participants interacted via real-time chat in a virtual environment in an 8-week support group. Result: Data indicated lower levels of perceived stress, depression and loneliness across participants. Importantly, satisfaction reports also indicate that caregivers overcame the barriers to participation, and had a strong sense of the group's presence. Discussion: This study provides the framework for an accessible and low cost online support group for a dementia caregiver. The study demonstrates the feasibility of interactive group in a virtual environment for engaging members in meaningful interaction.
- Support group
- Virtual world
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Issues, ethics and legal aspects
- Health Policy