Improving empathy and self-efficacy in caregivers of persons with intellectual disabilities, using m-learning (HiSense APP-ID): Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Evelien van Wingerden*, Paula S. Sterkenburg, Mirjam Wouda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: A secure attachment with one or more caregivers is one of the most important predictors of cognitive development and emotional wellbeing. Persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) have extra need for secure relationships with primary caregivers but can find making connections difficult. This study aims to explore the effect of a non-invasive m-learning intervention on the empathy and self-efficacy of caregivers, in view of improving attachment relationships with persons with ID. Methods: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) will be conducted to assess the efficacy of the HiSense APP-ID. The study will include 100 parents/relatives and 100 professional caregivers of adults with mild or moderate ID (18years and older). Of both groups of participants, half will complete the m-learning intervention. Data will be collected before the intervention starts, immediately after completion of the m-learning, and 1 month after the intervention. Participants will complete questionnaires concerning knowledge about attachment theory, empathy and self-efficacy (primary outcome measures) and social validity (secondary measures). Discussion: The intervention aims to increase caregiver understanding of attachment theory and to improve empathy and self-efficacy, which may lead to better care and less stress in social interactions. The HiSense APP-ID is an m-learning intervention that can be done independently on any digital device. The course is therefore easily accessible for caregivers of persons with ID. The current study will provide insight into the effectiveness of the intervention for parents/family members and professional caregivers of persons with mild or moderate ID.

Original languageEnglish
Article number400
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2018


  • Attachment
  • Empathy
  • Intellectual disability
  • M-learning
  • Self-efficacy

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