Describing behaviors of participants during a Virtual Dementia Tour™: A secondary descriptive analysis

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Morgan, Anna

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East Carolina University


Background: Incidence of dementia is rising, requiring need for prepared caregivers. The Virtual Dementia Tour TM (VDT) simulates the multi-faceted changes of dementia for caregiver participants. To determine how VDT participants behaved during the experience, aim #1 was to tabulate observation data collected on participants during a VDT and aim #2 was to identify frequency of common behaviors. The research question was: What are the common actions and verbal expressions of participants during the Virtual Dementia Tour™? Methodology: During the VDT, participants are given a list of 5 tasks to complete but often engage in other behaviors as they navigate the experience. Following IRB approval, a secondary analysis of observation data collected at previous VDT events was performed using 50 randomly selected observation forms. The student researcher tabulated number of tasks completed, summarized unexpected behaviors and, following review by the faculty mentor, formed themes and descriptors. Decisions about how to count a behavior or to award partial credit for a task was discussed as a team. To improve validity and reliability, decisions were recorded in a journal and reviewed at each analysis session. The team came to a consensus on counting rules and analysis. Results: Common themes and similarities between the participants were identified. Overall, participants did not complete all 5 tasks and demonstrated surprising common “extra” behaviors during their VDT. Talking/laughing to oneself, shadowing others, and performing tasks not on the list were most common. Discussion: These results show that participants found simple daily tasks nearly impossible to complete. This analysis showed caregivers expressed frustration and an awareness that dementia creates more than memory issues. Given the results, we believe tools like the VDTTM can promote understanding and empathy for the person living with dementia among caregivers.