Rethinking respite in Australia: A naturalistic effect study of a multicomponent community program to promote respite knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of carers of people with dementia

Publication Name

Health and Social Care in the Community


‘Rethink Respite’ was a prospective, naturalistic cohort study conducted in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven (NSW, Australia) to improve knowledge, attitudes and uptake of respite strategies in carers of people with dementia. A convenience sample of n = 70 carers were recruited in 2014–15 to establish a baseline for knowledge, attitudes and use of respite for a cohort of carers in the region. Carer perceived need for respite, burden and self-efficacy were also assessed. A co-designed multi-component community-based intervention was subsequently rolled at in the region from 2015 to 2016. The intervention supported: awareness raising media; carer education sessions; access to web and print respite information resources; and an option to participate in a tailored one-on-one in-home coaching program. At program completion, a follow-up survey was administered to the cohort, with n = 44/70 responding. All n = 44 respondents reported participation in and exposure to ‘Rethink Respite’ media, information and education during the intervention period. Eighteen of the 44 also self-selected to receive the active tailored coaching support. At follow-up, few positive results were reported on the assessed carer variables for the cohort over time. However, post hoc sub-group analyses found those who also self-selected to receive active support (provided through coaching) (n = 18), showed improvements to their respite knowledge, attitudes and self-efficacy (p <.05). Intention to use respite, and levels of personal gain from caring in this sub-group also increased (p <.05). In contrast, carers who only participated in the informational/educational aspects of the program (and did not self-select to the respite coaching), experienced negative changes over time to their respite beliefs and ‘role captivity’. Overall, this pilot study suggests that passive respite information and educational strategies are insufficient, without more active supports (tailored respite coaching) to address observed carer decline over time. Future research should seek to replicate these results using a larger sample and an experimental design.

Open Access Status

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Funding Sponsor

National Health and Medical Research Council



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