Which interventions work for dementia family carers?: an updated systematic review of randomized controlled trials of carer interventions

Naoko Kishita, Laura Hammond, Celina M. Dietrich, Eneida Mioshi

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66 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: The aim of this study was to update the literature on interventions for carers of people with dementia published between 2006 and 2016 and evaluate the efficacy of psychoeducational programmes and psychotherapeutic interventions on key mental health outcomes (depression, anxiety, burden, and quality of life).

Methods: A meta-analysis was carried out of randomised controlled trials of carer interventions using MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials.

Results: The majority of studies were conducted in Western and Southern Europe or the United States and recruited carers of people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia grouped as a whole. The most commonly used outcome measures were depression and burden across studies. The updated evidence suggested that psychoeducation-skill building interventions delivered face-to-face can better impact on burden. Psychotherapeutic interventions underpinned by Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) models demonstrated strong empirical support for treating anxiety and depression and these effects were not
affected by the mode of delivery (i.e., face-to-face vs technology). A modern CBT approach, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), seemed to be particularly beneficial for carers experiencing high levels of anxiety.

Conclusions: Future research needs to explore the efficacy of interventions on multiple clinical outcomes and which combination of interventions (components) would have the most significant effects when using CBT. The generalisation of treatment effects in different countries and carers of different types of dementia also need to be addressed. More research is needed to test the efficacy of modern forms of CBT such as ACT. 246/250 words
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1679-1696
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number11
Early online date18 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • caregiver
  • dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • psychological interventions
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • meta-analysis

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