Informal caregivers are responsible for providing the majority of post-discharge care for many frail older adults in rural settings. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether an advanced practice nurse (APN) intervention would promote more positive physical and emotional outcomes in caregivers of rural older adults who are frail and were recently discharged from urban-based hospitals. Thirty-two caregivers of frail rural elderly individuals were randomly assigned to treatment (APN intervention) and control groups (no APN intervention). Assessments of caregiver outcomes were collected via telephone interviews at 48-hour, 2-week, and 4-week intervals after hospital discharge of the frail rural older adults. Outcomes were operationalized as caregiver physical health and well being, and stress and burden. The former was measured using the Health and Daily Living form (HDL) and the latter by the Thoughts and Feeling and Time and Energy subscales of the Caregiver Burden Inventory (CBI). Additional information on caregiver problems and APN visit time was collected by the APN using the Omaha Classification System. Caregivers in the treatment group experienced significantly more positive physical and emotional health outcomes. The caregivers who received the APN intervention had higher self-rated emotional health scores, fewer emotional symptoms at Week 4, fewer depressive symptoms at Week 2 and 4, and lower Thoughts and Feelings stress scores at 48 hours than the control group. Findings support the importance of addressing the needs of caregivers post-discharge and the ability of APNs to improve post-discharge outcomes for home health care recipients and their caregivers.
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