Effectiveness of interventions to address the negative health outcomes of informal caregiving to older adults: protocol for an umbrella review

BMJ Open. 2021 Nov 9;11(11):e053117. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-053117.


Introduction: Informal (unpaid) caregivers play an essential role in caring for older people, whose care needs are often not fully met by formal services. While providing informal care may be a positive experience, it can also exert a considerable strain on caregivers' physical and mental health. How to best support the needs of informal caregivers remains largely debated. This umbrella review (review of systematic reviews) aims to evaluate (1) whether effective interventions can mitigate the negative health outcomes of informal caregiving, (2) whether certain types of interventions are more effective than others, (3) whether effectiveness of interventions depends on caregiver/receiver, context or implementation characteristics and (4) how these interventions are perceived in terms of acceptability, feasibility and added value.

Methods and analysis: We will include systematic reviews of primary studies focusing on the effectiveness of interventions (public or private, unifaceted or multifaceted, delivered by health or social care professionals or volunteers) aimed at reducing the impact of caregiving on caregivers' physical or mental health. This will also include quantitative and qualitative syntheses of implementation studies. The literature search will include the following databases: Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Web of Science. A key informant-guided search of grey literature will be performed. Quality appraisal will be conducted with the AMSTAR-2 checklist for quantitative reviews and with an ad hoc checklist for qualitative syntheses. Narrative and tabular summaries of extracted data will be produced, and framework synthesis will be employed for weaving together evidence from quantitative studies in effectiveness reviews with findings on implementation from qualitative studies.

Ethics and dissemination: This umbrella review will use data from secondary sources and will not involve interactions with study participants; it is thus exempt from ethical approval. Results will be presented at international conferences and will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Prospero registration number: CRD42021252841.

Keywords: clinical trials; health policy; public health; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Qualitative Research
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic