This study aims to assess whether educational programmes for caregivers of individuals with dementia living in the community are effective on caregiver burden, quality of life (QoL), depression and transitions to long stay care compared with usual care.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, AgeLine, CENTRAL and ERIC were searched with no restrictions on language or publication status in February 2013. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were eligible. Participants were informal caregivers undertaking day to day care of an individual with dementia living in the community. Interventions were educational programmes aimed at teaching skills relevant to dementia caring. Two authors independently assessed studies for eligibility, assessed risk of bias and extracted data.
We screened 1390 citations and included seven RCTs with 764 participants. Meta-analysis of five trials showed a moderate effect on carer burden (Standardised Mean Difference (SMD) = -0.52; 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.79 to -0.26; I(2) = 40%). Meta-analysis of two trials showed a small effect on depression (SMD = -0.37; 95% CI -0.65 to -0.09; I(2) = 0%). There was no effect on number of transitions to long stay care (relative risk 1.29; 95% CI 0.80 to 2.08). Effect on QoL was not estimable as studies varied in reporting of sub-domains and constructs within scales.
Educational programmes have a moderate effect on caregiver burden and a small effect on depression. Evidence of an effect on QoL and transitions to long stay care remains unclear.