The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of polarity therapy (PT), a
complementary and alternative medicine treatment, in American Indian caregivers living in
the Pacific Northwest.
The caregivers of people with dementia experience high levels of stress and are at
particularly high risk for physical and mental illness. Although stress and illness are
serious problems among American Indian caregivers in the Northwest, few studies have
concentrated on this population. PT is a treatment that involves awareness of one's energy
field and touch therapy; it has been shown to provide several physiological, biological, and
psychological benefits. This study will determine whether PT is more effective than respite
from caregiving in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression and improving health function
and overall quality of life in American Indian caregivers.
Participants will be randomly assigned to receive either eight weekly sessions of PT or 3
hours of weekly respite from caregiving for 8 weeks. At the beginning of the study and at
Weeks 4 and 8, participants will complete questionnaires and self-report scales on stress,
anxiety, depression, and quality of life. In addition, heart rate variability and levels of
cortisol will be measured at study entry and Weeks 4 and 8.
- Caregiver of a family member with dementia for at least 4 hours a day
- American Indian
- Nerve disorders caused by diabetes
- Use of beta blockers