As we navigate through the complex experience of caregiving, it is often the informal caregivers, such as close friends or relatives, who become the unsung heroes of caregiving at home. These caregivers are the ones who provide the much-needed support and assistance that patients require to live life with some semblance of normalcy.
For informal caregivers, providing care for a loved one can be emotionally, physically, and mentally challenging. They often have to adapt to a new role as the primary caregiver, while also managing their own lives and responsibilities. Consequently, caregiving can take a toll on these caregivers’ well-being, with many experiencing stress and burnout. Interventions designed to provide support to these caregivers are thus crucial. To this end, our recent study identified important unmet needs of informal caregivers and provided design suggestions for a persuasive e-coaching application using the persuasive system design (PSD) model. The PSD model offers a systematic approach to designing IT interventions.
Using a qualitative research approach, we interviewed 13 informal caregivers and conducted a thematic analysis of the data. From this analysis, six needs were identified: monitoring and guidance, assistance in navigating formal care services, access to practical information without feeling overwhelmed, a sense of community, access to informal support, and the ability to accept grief. These needs formed the basis for suggested design features in an e-coaching application, using the PSD model.
However, we found that some needs could not be mapped using the existing PSD model. As such, we adapted the model to better address the needs of informal caregivers.
By identifying the needs of informal caregivers and providing design suggestions for an e-coaching application, this study offers support and hope for those navigating the challenging role of caregiving. The suggestions for e-coaching applications using the PSD model have the potential to ease the caregiving burden, as well as provide caregivers access to the support and resources they need to provide better care, which is an essential factor in improving both the caregiver’s well-being and the overall quality of care provided to patients. This study highlights the importance of providing support to informal caregivers and demonstrates the potential of technology-based interventions to improve caregivers’ lives. With further development and refinement, e-coaching applications designed based on the PSD model could become valuable tools for supporting and empowering informal caregivers.