Background: Burnout, stress and anxiety have been identified as areas of concern for informal caregivers and health professionals, particularly in the palliative setting. Meditative interventions are gaining acceptance as tools to improve well-being in a variety of clinical contexts, however, their effectiveness as an intervention for caregivers remains unknown.
Aim: To explore the effect of meditative interventions on physical and emotional markers of well-being as well as job satisfaction and burnout among informal caregivers and health professionals.
Design: Systematic review of randomised clinical trials and pre-post intervention studies with meditative interventions for caregivers.
Data sources: PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL and PsycINFO were searched up to November 2013. Of 1561 abstracts returned, 68 studies were examined in full text with 27 eligible for systematic review.
Results: Controlled trials of informal caregivers showed statistically significant improvement in depression (effect size 0.49 (95% CI 0.24 to 0.75)), anxiety (effect size 0.53 (95% CI 0.06 to 0.99)), stress (effect size 0.49 (95% CI 0.21 to 0.77)) and self-efficacy (effect size 0.86 (95% CI 0.5 to 1.23)), at an average of 8 weeks following intervention initiation. Controlled trials of health professionals showed improved emotional exhaustion (effect size 0.37 (95% CI 0.04 to 0.70)), personal accomplishment (effect size 1.18 (95% CI 0.10 to 2.25)) and life satisfaction (effect size 0.48 (95% CI 0.15 to 0.81)) at an average of 8 weeks following intervention initiation.
Conclusions: Meditation provides a small to moderate benefit for informal caregivers and health professionals for stress reduction, but more research is required to establish effects on burnout and caregiver burden.
Keywords: Cancer; Chronic conditions; Complementary therapy; Education and training; Psychological care; Quality of life.
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