Helping caregivers of persons with dementia: which interventions work and how large are their effects?

Int Psychogeriatr. 2006 Dec;18(4):577-95. doi: 10.1017/S1041610206003462. Epub 2006 May 11.


Background: In recent years, many different forms of interventions for caregivers of people with dementia have been developed. However, their results have been, in part, inconclusive.

Methods: Meta-analysis was used to integrate the results of 127 intervention studies with dementia caregivers published or presented between 1982 and 2005.

Results: Interventions had, on average, significant but small effects on burden, depression, subjective well-being, ability/knowledge and symptoms of care recipient. Only multicomponent interventions reduced the risk for institutionalization. Psychoeducational interventions that require active participation of caregivers had the broadest effects. Effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy, support, counseling, daycare, training of care recipient, and multicomponent interventions were domain specific. The effect sizes varied by study characteristics, such as caregiver gender and year of publication.

Conclusions: Because most interventions have domain-specific outcomes, clinicians must tailor interventions according to the specific needs of the individual caregivers. Although more recent interventions showed stronger effects, there is room for further improvements in interventions.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Caregivers / education
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Case Management
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Counseling
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Institutionalization
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Respite Care
  • Social Support