A Systematic Review of Interventions for Unpaid Caregivers of Persons With Dementia
Peacock, Shelly C.
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The prevalence of dementia is increasing as seniors are living longer than ever before. Due to cuts in funding for formal support such as home care and the decreased number of long-term care beds many families are having to provide care for a loved one with dementia in the community. The results of caregiving lead to both positive and negative consequences. There is an abundance of literature regarding interventions to support and maintain caregivers in the community, many with conflicting results. This study utilized a systematic review to gather and synthesize information about interventions that have an effect on the well-being of caregivers of people with dementia. The steps in a systematic review include: (a) developing a research question, (b) developing relevance and validity tools, (c) conducting a thorough literature search of published and unpublished studies, (d) using relevance and validity tools to assess the studies, (e) completing data extraction for each study, (l) synthesizing the findings and, (g) writing the report. A search of published and some unpublished articles resulted in the retrieval of 92 studies, with 36 meeting the relevance criteria. Utilizing the validity criteria, 11 studies were rated as strong, 11 moderate, 13 weak, and 1 poor. The strong and moderate studies are the focus of the review. No one intervention demonstrated an overall significant impact on the well-being of caregivers. Several interventions have been shown to be of benefit to caregivers, however, further investigation is greatly needed. Institutionalization was delayed by the psychotherapy intervention for caregivers and in one of the case management models. Caregiver depression and strain were reduced during in-hospital respite. Two educational interventions demonstrated an increase in knowledge about dementia for caregivers. Interventions individualized to the caregiver or care receiver were successful in some outcome areas. Non-significant findings were more common. The results of this study will be disseminated to interested researchers, consumers, practitioners and policy makers in a variety of formats. Systematic reviews are an important means to guide consumers and practitioners as they make evidence-based decisions.