Caring for the carer: a systematic review of pure technology-based cognitive behavioral therapy (TB-CBT) interventions for dementia carers

Jennifer L. Scott, Sarah Dawkins, Michael G. Quinn, Kristy Sanderson, Kate-Ellen J. Elliott, Christine Stirling, Ben Schüz, Andrew Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Face-to-face delivery of CBT is not always optimal or practical for informal dementia carers (DCs). Technology-based formats of CBT delivery (TB-CBT) have been developed with the aim to improve client engagement and accessibility, and lower delivery costs, and offers potential benefits for DCs. However, research of TB-CBT for DCs has maintained heavy reliance on therapist involvement. The efficacy of pure TB-CBT interventions for DCs is not currently established. 

Methods: A systematic review of trials of pure TB-CBT intervention for DCs from 1995 was conducted. PsycINFO, Cochrane Reviews, Scopus and MedLine databases were searched using key terms related to CBT, carers and dementia. Four hundred and forty two articles were identified, and inclusion/exclusion criteria were applied; studies were only retained if quantitative data was available, and there was no active therapist contact. Four articles were retained; two randomized and two waitlist control trials. Methodological and reporting quality was assessed. Meta-analyses were conducted for the outcome measures of caregiver depression. 

Results: Meta-analysis revealed small significant post-intervention effects of pure TB-CBT interventions for depression; equivalent to face-to-face interventions. However, there is no evidence regarding long-term efficacy of pure TB-CBT for DCs. The systematic review further identified critical methodological and reporting shortcomings pertaining to these trials. 

Conclusions: Pure TB-CBT interventions may offer a convenient, economical method for delivering psychological interventions to DCs. Future research needs to investigate their long-term efficacy, and consider potential moderating and mediating factors underpinning the mechanisms of effect of these programs. This will help to provide more targeted interventions to this underserviced population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-803
Number of pages11
JournalAging & Mental Health
Issue number8
Early online date15 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2016


  • carers
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • dementia
  • depression
  • systematic review
  • technology

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