Occupational therapy interventions for adult informal carers and implications for intervention design, delivery and evaluation: A systematic review

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Abstract

Introduction: Informal carers provide vital support for patients, reducing strain on health and social care services. However, caring can detrimentally affect carers’ health and wellbeing, thus policy advocates for improved carer support. Objective: to establish the published international evidence base regarding interventions for carers delivered by occupational therapists.

Method: English language studies published January 2010–January 2021 were identified against predetermined inclusion/exclusion criteria via searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsychINFO, OTSeeker, Scopus, Web of Science and the Cochrane Library. Supplemental strategies: database alerts, hand-searching, searching of included papers’ reference lists and citations, and contacting key authors. Two reviewers completed critical appraisal and produced a textual narrative synthesis of data using a convergent integrated method.

Results: 38 papers were included, reporting 21 interventions. Most were dyadic, home-based interventions for carers of people living with dementia. Common intervention components included: assessment and goal-setting, skill training, education, coping strategies, equipment provision, environmental adaptation and signposting. Interventions improved outcomes for carers, however, intervention design and evaluation require careful consideration to maximise carer benefits and capture intervention effects.

Conclusion: Occupational therapist delivered carer interventions enhance support and improve carer outcomes. Intervention and evaluation designs should include careful selection of outcome measures, avoidance of increased carer burden in dyadic interventions and acknowledgement of known barriers and facilitators to both carer and therapist intervention engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-100
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Volume86
Issue number2
Early online date24 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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