Updated meta-review of evidence on support for carers.

Peer-reviewed article
(2018 Jul) J Health Serv Res Policy, 23 196-207


Dalton J, Thomas S, Harden M, Eastwood A, Parker G


Objective To update a 2010 meta-review of systematic reviews of effective interventions to support carers of ill, disabled, or older adults. In this article, we report the most promising interventions based on the best available evidence. Methods Rapid meta-review of systematic reviews published from January 2009 to 2016. Results Sixty-one systematic reviews were included (27 high quality, 25 medium quality, and nine low quality). The quality of reviews has improved since the original review, but primary studies remain limited in quality and quantity. Fourteen high quality reviews focused on carers of people with dementia, four on carers of those with cancer, four on carers of people with stroke, three on carers of those at the end of life with various conditions, and two on carers of people with mental health problems. Multicomponent interventions featured prominently, emphasizing psychosocial or psychoeducational content, education and training. Improved outcomes for carers were reported for mental health, burden and stress, and wellbeing or quality of life. Negative effects were reported in reviews of respite care. As with earlier work, we found little robust evidence on the cost-effectiveness of reviewed interventions. Conclusions There is no 'one size fits all' intervention to support carers. There is potential for effective support in specific groups of carers, such as shared learning, cognitive reframing, meditation, and computer-delivered psychosocial support for carers of people with dementia. For carers of people with cancer, effective support may include psychosocial interventions, art therapy, and counselling. Carers of people with stroke may also benefit from counselling. More good quality, theory-based, primary research is needed.