Realist Review: Understanding Effectiveness of Intervention Programs for Dementia Caregivers

Asian Nurs Res (Korean Soc Nurs Sci). 2019 Feb;13(1):11-19. doi: 10.1016/j.anr.2019.01.002. Epub 2019 Jan 9.


Purpose: Caring for patients with dementia is a challenging issue entailing heavy responsibility. Many interventions for caregivers have been developed, but their effectiveness is not clear. This study aimed to examine how, why, and under what circumstances interventions for dementia caregivers affected their burden of caring.

Methods: Authors used a realist review approach to explore the evidence for how different interventions reduce the burden of dementia caregivers. We completed the literature review about the burden of dementia caregivers and extracted the theoretical concepts to explain context-mechanism-outcome configuration why an intervention may be effective in some situations and not others. Six databases were searched for experimental or quasi-experimental studies conducted from 2008 to 2017. Of 1,225 screened studies, 10 studies were eligible for inclusion.

Results: None of the studies included all the derived contexts while explaining in detail the mechanism of the intervention effectiveness. Among contexts, the variable of other family members requiring care was not included in all studies. Among the analyzed studies, no studies have applied repeated intervention. Most studies included only some variables of context and mechanism, and these variables did not directly explain the effectiveness of intervention. The effect of outcome variables was significant for each study, and the effects of research intervention and national services could not be separately described.

Conclusion: Authors conclude that Korean culture's emphasis on relationships with others increases the burden of care. In context, Confucian norms and traditional femininity of Korea were reflected in the core. It is necessary to check the homogeneity of participants and the design of intervention to verify the effectiveness of the outcome variable of psychological burden.

Keywords: Caregivers; Dementia; Family; Review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation
  • Stress, Psychological / nursing*