Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions for family caregivers on their psychosocial and physical wellbeing, quality of life, and the use of healthcare resources by stroke survivors.
Methods: Electronic English and Chinese bibliographic databases were searched (inception to January 2012) for clinical trials. Two reviewers independently selected and appraised study quality. When possible, data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were statistically pooled. Otherwise, a narrative summary was used.
Results: Eighteen studies (psychoeducation and social support group) were included. Pooled analysis of two individual psychoeducation programs showed a small effect on improving family functioning (SMD: -0.12; 95% CI: -0.23 to -0.01; p=0.03). Caregivers receiving psychoeducation that aimed at equipping caregivers with the skills of problem-solving, caregiving, and stress-coping appeared to have a more positive influence on the caregivers' psychosocial wellbeing and a reduced use of healthcare resources by stroke survivors.
Conclusion: Evidence on the effects of psychosocial interventions was limited. More RCTs of multifaceted psychoeducation programs are needed to further examine the optimal dose and format.
Practical implications: To support caregivers across the stroke trajectory, the core skills of problem-solving and stress-coping should be included in the psychosocial interventions.
Keywords: Family caregivers; Meta-analysis; Physical health; Psychosocial interventions; Psychosocial wellbeing; Quality of life; Stroke; Systematic review.
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