Systematic review of the effect of psychological interventions on family caregivers of people with dementia

A. Selwood, K. Johnston, C. Katona, C. Lyketsos, G. Livingston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

223 Scopus citations


Background: Caregivers of people with dementia are at high risk of psychological morbidity and associated breakdown in care. Many psychologically based interventions have been designed to help caregivers of people with dementia. More work is needed to identify which, if any, are helpful for such caregivers. Method: We conducted a systematic review of the immediate and long term efficacy of different types of psychological interventions for the psychological health of caregivers of people with dementia, using standardized criteria, to assist clinicians in implementing rational, evidence-based management recommendations. We reviewed studies examining the effects of any therapy derived from a psychological approach that satisfied pre-specified criteria. Using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine criteria we rated the quality of each study, extracted data and gave overall ratings to different types of intervention. Results: We identified 244 references in our search of which 62 met our inclusion criteria. Limitations: Our findings are limited by lack of good quality evidence, with only ten level 1 studies identified. Conclusions: We found excellent evidence for the efficacy of six or more sessions of individual behavioral management therapy centered on the care recipient's behavior in alleviating caregiver symptoms both immediately and for up to 32 months. Teaching caregivers coping strategies either individually or in a group also appeared effective in improving caregiver psychological health both immediately and for some months afterwards. Group interventions were less effective than individual interventions. Education about dementia by itself, group behavioral therapy and supportive therapy were not effective caregiver interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-89
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Caregivers
  • Dementia
  • Psychological interventions
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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