First Study on Caregiving Apps Shows Improvements in Caregiver Experience

Research June 28, 2022

The number of people in the United States serving as unpaid caregivers is on the rise, sitting at 53 million as of 2020. They provide care in a wide range of situations -- for children, older adults, family or friends managing chronic conditions, or partners with specialized healthcare needs. Caregiver burden is also rising, leading to negative health outcomes like mental distress and sleep deprivation, in addition to issues with quality of life and work-life balance. Mobile applications to help caregivers are becoming popular, but there was no research on their effectiveness until now. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a mobile app in decreasing caregiver burden and increasing perceived support and well-being. The app chosen for this study, ianacare, was the 2020 winner of Elevance Health’s Fast-Track-To-Scale program

Findings: Use of the app was associated with improvements in 7 of 11 caregiver outcomes across three main categories: their support system, time spent on caregiving, and perceived health and well-being.

“The findings from this first-of-its-kind study provide encouraging evidence that a mobile app can significantly reduce caregiver burden by leveraging a caregiver’s support network,” said Pelin Ozluk, lead researcher for Health Services Research at Elevance Health. “Caregiver support is a powerful way for employers to advance key initiatives like diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; return to work; and employee mental health.”

When using the app, caregivers reported they were:

  • 13% less likely to do most caregiving tasks alone
  • 54% less likely to take time off work to attend caregiving duties
  • 29% less likely to feel overwhelmed by caregiving tasks
  • 21% less likely to report negative health effects

What’s Next: As a result of the study, Elevance Health made a caregiving app available to all its associates. The company is also collaborating with the app designer on a benefit program for other large employers.

Methodology: This survey study involved 176 employed people who serve as primary unpaid caregivers. The caregivers used a mobile app that allows a support team to be mobilized when the primary caregiver makes needs known. Two surveys were administered — one before use of the app and one after six weeks of using the app. They contained questions about their support system, their time use and productivity outcomes, and their well-being.

Read the Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9039821