Stress-Busting Program for Family Caregivers

Primary Practice

Multi-component in-person intervention led by facilitators


The Stress Busting Program (SBP) for Family Caregivers is a multi-component program where two facilitators meet with a small group of family caregivers for 1 ½ hours once a week for 9 consecutive weeks to facilitate education, support, problem solving, and stress management. It takes a holistic approach addressing the emotional, physical, spiritual, and cognitive needs of family caregivers. Content includes the topics of (1) stress and relaxation; (2) grief, loss, and depression; (3) dealing with challenging behaviors of people with dementia; (4) coping with stress; (5) positive thinking; (6) taking time for yourself; and (7) choosing a path of wellness. Stress management techniques are taught including (1) relaxation breathing, (2) meditation, (3) imagery, (4) art, (5) music, (6) journaling, and (7) aromatherapy.

Target Population(s)

Caregivers of individuals with dementia and older adults with chronic conditions


From 1996 – 2010, the Stress-Busting Program was developed through funding from the National Institutes of Health. From 2010 – 2012 the program was disseminated to the community with funding from the Administration on Aging in partnership with The WellMed Charitable Foundation. The program is recognized by the Administration on Aging as the highest-level criteria for an evidence-based program and by the VA as evidence-supported program. The program is written into the Texas State Plan on Alzheimer’s disease under Goal IV. The program is currently offered in at least 10 states.


It is designed to (1) improve the quality of life of family caregivers and (2) help caregivers manage their stress and cope better with their lives

Evidence of Outcomes

Evidence-Based Practice
The program is widely implemented at multiple site with a high level of fidelity in materials and master facilitator training.

The Stress Busting program was evaluated with a convenience sample of 209 caregivers from a large metropolitan area in south Texas. Caregivers were surveyed at four points in time: pre-test (Time 1), middle of intervention at 4 weeks (Time 2), end of intervention at 9 weeks (Time 3), and follow-up session 2 months following completion of the program. Results of both the original research and the dissemination phases of the SBP indicate that caregivers had significant decreases in perceived stress, depression, caregiver burden, anxiety, and anger/hostility. In addition, they also had improvements in general health, vitality, social function, and mental health scores. Follow-up data indicated that these changes were maintained at 2 and 4 months after the intervention.

Additional Information

Stress-Busting Program for Caregivers website:


Lewis, S.L., Miner-Williams, D.M., et al. (2009). A Stress-Busting Program for Family Caregivers. Rehabilitation Nursing, 34(4), 151-159.