Open Access Research article

Counsellors contact dementia caregivers - predictors of utilisation in a longitudinal study

Maria Grossfeld-Schmitz1, Carolin Donath1*, Rolf Holle2, Joerg Lauterberg3, Stephan Ruckdaeschel4, Hilmar Mehlig5, Peter Marx6, Sonja Wunder7 and Elmar Gräßel1

Author Affiliations

1 Psychiatric University Hospital Erlangen, Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Schwabachanlage 6, 91054 Erlangen, Germany

2 Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany

3 Federal Association of the AOK, Rosenthalerstr. 31, 10178 Berlin, Germany

4 HealthEcon AG, Basel, Switzerland

5 Eisai GmbH, Lyoner Str. 36, 60528 Frankfurt, Germany

6 Pfizer Deutschland GmbH, Linkstrasse 10, 10785 Berlin, Germany

7 AOK Bavaria - Health insurer, Stromerstraße 5, 90443 Nürnberg, Germany

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BMC Geriatrics 2010, 10:24  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-24

Published: 14 May 2010



Counselling of family members is an established procedure in the support of dementia patients' relatives. In absence of widespread specialised dementia care services in most countries, however, counselling services are often not taken up or only very late in the course of the disease.


In order to promote acceptance of this service, a new counselling concept was implemented where general practitioners recommended family counsellors, who then actively contacted the family caregivers to offer counselling ("Counsellors Contact Caregivers", CCC). The research questions were: To what extent can the rate of family counselling be increased by CCC? What are the predictors for usage of this form of family counselling?


The study started in June 2006 in Middle Franconia for patients with mild to moderate dementia. At baseline, 110 family caregivers were offered counselling based on the CCC guideline. Data was analysed from 97 patient-caregiver dyads who received counselling for one year. The mean age of the patients with dementia (67 women and 30 men) was 80.7 years (SD = 6.2). The mean age of their primary family caregivers (68 women, 23 men) was 60.8 years (SD = 13.8).


35 family members (36%) made use of more extensive counselling (more than one personal contact). By contrast, 29 family members (30%) had no personal contact or only one personal contact (33 cases, 34%). The factors "spouse" (p = .001) and "degree of care" (p = .005) were identified as significant predictors for acceptance of extensive counselling.


Actively contacting patients and their caregivers is a successful means of establishing early and frequent contact with family members of patients with mild to moderate dementia. Use of extensive counselling is made especially by spouses of patients requiring intensified care.

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