This study aims to describe the development and approach of a theory-informed social marketing intervention that aimed to promote respite for carers of people with dementia. Despite a high need for respite, carers of people with dementia are often low users of available respite services. The reasons for this are complex, including knowledge, attitudinal, behavioural and systemic barriers. In the context of an aging population, effective strategies to support respite use by carers of people with dementia are needed.
Via formative research, the authors gained an in-depth understanding of a hard-to-reach and vulnerable group (carers of people with dementia). The resulting intervention informed, persuaded and supported carers to rethink the use of respite addressing specific barriers to service use. The intervention was evaluated using a naturalistic effects model.
Carers of people with dementia who were exposed to community-level campaign activities and also self-selected to take part in tailored coaching showed improvements to their respite knowledge, attitudes and self-efficacy. Intention to use respite and levels of personal gain from caring also increased. In contrast, carers only exposed to informational activities experienced negative changes to their respite beliefs and their sense of role captivity.
Social marketing can be used to support carer respite knowledge, attitudes and service-use behaviours in carers of people with dementia. The case study highlights an untapped role for social marketers to work in partnership with health professionals to support improvements in aged care services.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first known social marketing intervention promoting the use of respite to carers of people with dementia. Findings demonstrate that tailored support services are most effective in helping carers navigate and use respite services.