Short-term effects of a gain-focused reappraisal intervention for dementia caregivers: A double-blind cluster-randomized controlled trial

Sheung-Tak Cheng, Helene H. Fung, Wai Chi Chan, Linda C.W. Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


To examine the effects of a benefit-finding intervention, the key feature being the use of gain-focused reappraisal strategies to find positive meanings and benefits in caring for someone with dementia.

Design: Cluster-randomized double-blind controlled trial.

Setting: Social centers and clinics.

Participants: 129 caregivers. Inclusion criteria were (a) primary caregiver aged 18+ and without cognitive impairment, (b) providing ≥14 care hours per week to a relative with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease, and (c) scoring ≥3 on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Exclusion criterion was care-recipient having parkinsonism or other forms of dementia.

Interventions: The benefit-finding intervention was evaluated against two treatment-as-usuals, namely, simplified psychoeducation (lectures only) and standard psychoeducation. Each intervention lasted eight weeks, with a 2-hour session per week. Randomization into these conditions was based on center/clinic membership.

Measurements: Primary outcome was depressive symptom. Secondary outcomes were Zarit Burden Interview, role overload, and psychological well-being. Self-efficacy beliefs and positive gains were treated as mediators. Measures were collected at baseline and posttreatment.

Results: Regression analyses showed BF treatment effects on all outcomes when compared with SIM-PE, and effects on depressive symptoms and Zarit burden when compared with STD-PE. Effect sizes were medium-to-large for depressive symptoms (d=-0.77– -0.96), and medium for the secondary outcomes (d=|0.42–0.65|). Furthermore, using the bootstrapping method, we found significant mediating effects by self-efficacy in controlling upsetting thoughts and positive gains, with the former being the primary mediator.

Conclusions: Finding positive gains reduces depressive symptoms and burden and promotes psychological well-being primarily through enhancing self-efficacy in controlling upsetting thoughts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740–750
JournalThe American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number9
Early online date29 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


  • dementia caregiving
  • depression
  • positive aspects of
  • caregiving
  • cluster-randomized controlled trial

Cite this