Testing Care Coordination for Veterans with Dementia

Field of Work: Testing an intervention for veterans with dementia and their family caregivers.

Problem Synopsis: Family caregivers of veterans with dementia face the demands and strains of caring for individuals with complex health care needs, multiple coexisting medical conditions and, often, other social, financial, or emotional problems.

Synopsis of the Work: The study compared the usual dementia-related health care services provided at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers with an intervention coordinated jointly by the VA and the Alzheimer's Association.

The five-year study, which enrolled 508 veterans and 486 family caregivers, assessed whether the intervention reduced the use and cost of health care services and improved psychosocial outcomes for veterans and their family caregivers. RWJF provided funding for the first two years of the study.

Key Findings

The researchers reported the following findings in December 2011 at the completion of the five-year study:

  • Caregivers and veterans who received the intervention had significantly better psychosocial outcomes compared with those who did not. For example, the intervention group caregivers averaged 15 percent fewer symptoms of depression.
  • Impaired veterans who received the intervention were 20 percent less likely than the control group to be readmitted to the hospital and were less likely to be admitted to a nursing home.
  • No significant differences in the total cost of VA health care services were evident between the two groups over the 12-month enrollment period.