Undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research: A pilot study exploring care of a family member with dementia

Theresa A. Kesseler, Lynette Rayman


Objective: Caregivers for a family member with dementia experience subtle but long-term role changes that can be attenuated with successful coping strategies. The aim of this paper is to describe an effective research initiative managed by an undergraduate student-faculty collaborative team to assess the physical, emotional, and financial effects of caregiving and identify the impact of using an adult day service.

Methods: Using the collaborative model, undergraduate nursing students led a mixed method, pilot study. Eight students, mentored by two faculty, held weekly meetings to manage the research design. After reviewing literature evidence, students developed the methodology and carried out the research. The convenience sample included 10 caregivers, each having a family member with dementia, who attended an adult day center in a rural/suburban city in the Midwest. The Kingston Caregiver Stress Scale (KCSS), a 10-item assessment of caregiver stress using a 5-point Likert scale, measured quantitative data. Two focus groups were conducted to collect qualitative data.

Results: Participants included 6 males/4 females ranging in age from 46-72 (M = 65, SD = 10.58). Participants provided care an average of 4.2 years (SD = 6.0) and reported moderate levels of caregiving stress on the KCSS (M = 30.5, SD = 9.7). Four themes emerged from focus groups: (a) common emotional responses, (b) benefits of adult day services, (c) overwhelming impact on daily life, and (d) caregiver social isolation.

Conclusions: Respite services promoted resilience through opportunities to manage self-care, to perform daily tasks, and to decrease emotional burden. Undergraduate nursing students effectively planned and implemented the research. As future practitioners, they may be more inclined to participate in best practice because of their experience on a student-faculty collaborative team.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v11n3p17

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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