Open Access Study protocol

Intervention to improve social and family support for caregivers of dependent patients: ICIAS study protocol

Magdalena Rosell-Murphy1*, Josep Mª Bonet-Simó2, Esther Baena2, Gemma Prieto3, Eva Bellerino4, Francesc Solé5, Montserrat Rubio6, Ilona Krier4, Pascuala Torres6, Sonia Mimoso6 and the ICIAS research group

Author Affiliations

1 Primary Care Team, Serraparera, Institut Català de la Salut. Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona 08290, Spain

2 Primary Care Unit, Cerdanyola-Ripollet, Institut Català de la Salut. Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain

3 Primary Care Agency, Avila, Spain

4 Primary Care Team, Ripollet, Institut Català de la Salut, Barcelona, Spain

5 Primary Care Team, Badia del Vallès, Institut Català de la Salut, Barcelona, Spain

6 Primary Care Team, Canaletes, Institut Català de la Salut. Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:53  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-53

Published: 25 March 2014



Despite the existence of formal professional support services, informal support (mainly family members) continues to be the main source of eldercare, especially for those who are dependent or disabled. Professionals on the primary health care are the ideal choice to educate, provide psychological support, and help to mobilize social resources available to the informal caregiver.

Controversy remains concerning the efficiency of multiple interventions, taking a holistic approach to both the patient and caregiver, and optimum utilization of the available community resources. .For this reason our goal is to assess whether an intervention designed to improve the social support for caregivers effectively decreases caregivers burden and improves their quality of life.


Design: Controlled, multicentre, community intervention trial, with patients and their caregivers randomized to the intervention or control group according to their assigned Primary Health Care Team (PHCT).

Study area: Primary Health Care network (9 PHCTs).

Study participants: Primary informal caregivers of patients receiving home health care from participating PHCTs.

Sample: Required sample size is 282 caregivers (141 from PHCTs randomized to the intervention group and 141 from PHCTs randomized to the control group.

Intervention: a) PHCT professionals: standardized training to implement caregivers intervention. b) Caregivers: 1 individualized counselling session, 1 family session, and 4 educational group sessions conducted by participating PHCT professionals; in addition to usual home health care visits, periodic telephone follow-up contact and unlimited telephone support.

Control: Caregivers and dependent patients: usual home health care, consisting of bimonthly scheduled visits, follow-up as needed, and additional attention upon request.

Data analysis

Dependent variables: Caregiver burden (short-form Zarit test), caregivers’ social support (Medical Outcomes Study), and caregivers’ reported quality of life (SF-12)

Independent variables: a) Caregiver: sociodemographic data, Goldberg Scale, Apgar family questionnaire, Holmes and Rahe Psychosocial Stress Scale, number of chronic diseases. b) Dependent patient: sociodemographic data, level of dependency (Barthel Index), cognitive impairment (Pfeiffer test).


If the intervention intended to improve social and family support is effective in reducing the burden on primary informal caregivers of dependent patients, this model can be readily applied throughout usual PHCT clinical practice.

Trial registration

Clinical trials registrar: NCT02065427

Caregiver burden; Social support; Primary health care