Feasibility of conducting qualitative research with persons living with dementia and their caregivers during a home-delivered meals pilot trial

Emily A. Gadbois, Jennifer N. Bunker, Michelle Hilgeman, Renee Shield, Kathleen E. McAuliff, Whitney Mills, Kali Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Among older adults, food insecurity is associated with poor health status and health outcomes; people living with dementia (PLWD) are at increased risk for insecurity. Approaches to addressing food insecurity among homebound older adults include two modes of home-delivered meals: (1) meals delivered daily to participants’ homes by a volunteer or paid driver who socializes with the client or (2) frozen meals that are mailed to participants’ homes. Research has not examined benefits of these meals for PLWD or their caregivers nor compared the effectiveness of these two approaches in reducing food insecurity. The objective of this study was to test the processes for recruiting and engaging in qualitative research with PLWD and caregivers in an effort to understand the context, implementation, and mechanisms of impact by which relationships between meal delivery and outcomes may be achieved in preparation for a larger, follow-on study. Methods: This is a qualitative sub-study of a pilot, multisite, two-arm pragmatic feasibility trial comparing the effect of two modes of meal delivery on nursing home placement among 243 PLWD. In this sub-study, we tested recruitment and enrollment procedures and piloted interview guides among a subset of participants and caregivers. Results: We recruited and conducted interviews with nine PLWD and seven caregivers. In testing the informed consent process, all participants were able to consent to be interviewed, and PLWD all demonstrated capacity to consent. We successfully used a cognitive screener to obtain scores of cognitive impairment for PLWD and observed scores indicating a broad range of function. Our interview guides successfully resulted in information about the context, implementation, and mechanisms of impact for meal delivery during the pilot. Conclusions: In addition to establishing feasibility for the future trial, the substantive findings identified through the qualitative interviews provide an initial understanding of the contextual factors for meal delivery and the potential mechanisms of impact across meal delivery types that warrant further examination in a full-scale trial. Findings from our study provide crucial pilot data to support a follow-on trial to understand how to address food insecurity among PLWD. Name of the registry: ClinicalTrials.gov Trial registration: NCT04850781 Date of registration: April 20, 2021, retrospectively registered https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04850781.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number65
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias
  • Caregivers
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Home-delivered meals
  • Informed consent
  • Pilot intervention
  • Recruitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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