A one-year randomized controlled psychosocial intervention study among family carers of dementia patients--effects on patients and carers

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2007;24(6):469-75. doi: 10.1159/000110740. Epub 2007 Nov 7.


Objective: To test the effect of a short-term psychosocial intervention programme for family carers of patients with dementia and identify characteristics of carers and patients that responded positively.

Methods: The study was a multi-centre randomized controlled trial. Carers of 180 patients suffering from dementia recruited at 7 memory clinics at geriatric or psychiatric departments participated in the study. Carers of the intervention group were educated about dementia and in 6 group meetings taught how to use structured problem-solving. The control group received treatment as usual. The effect on patients was measured with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and on carers with the Relatives' Stress Scale (RSS).

Results: The intention-to-treat efficacy analysis included 171 carer/patient dyads. The intervention did not have any effect on the primary outcome variables. The burden measured by the RSS increased in both groups; however, more carers of the control group converted from a low-burden group to a medium- or high-burden group after 4.5 months. In a subgroup analysis we found a statistically significant difference in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory score in favour of the intervention group among female patients.

Conclusion: The predominately negative result of this study emphasizes the need of individually tailored interventions for carers and the use of narrow inclusion criteria when performing group-based interventions, such as the extent of burden as well as gender and kinship.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Dementia* / diagnosis
  • Dementia* / epidemiology
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Psychology
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology