The purpose of this article is to explore the topic of friends as a spontaneously occurring response in open-ended interviews with dementia caregivers and to propose guidelines for assessment and intervention based on current knowledge. The sample includes 176 open-ended baseline interviews with dementia caregivers drawn from the National Caregivers Training Study, a 4-year multi-site, randomized, community-based, psycho-educational intervention study. References to friends were present in 60 of the 176 baseline transcripts. More than 50% of the references were positive, 63% referred to the present, 80% of the content scores were greater than 1, and 66% were categorized as emotional support or social integration for caregivers. Meaningful categories exist and can be helpful in structuring the assessment of support from friends. Data support prior research suggesting that friends are providers and facilitators of emotional support and social integration. Although further research is needed on the concept of social support in general and social network providers in particular (e.g., friends), current knowledge allows for preliminary recommendations for assessment and intervention of friends and social support.
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