Effectiveness of interventions for informal caregivers of people with end-stage chronic illness: a systematic review

Karen McGuigan, Gladys Laurente, Andrena Christie, Claire Carswell, Conor Moran, Magdi Yaqoob, Stephanie Bolton, Robert Mullan, Soham Rej, Patty Gilbert, Clare McKeaveney, Clare McVeigh, Colleen Tierney, Joanne Reid, Ian Walsh, Trisha Forbes, Helen Noble

Research output: Other contribution

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People living with advanced, non-malignant chronic conditions often have extensive and complex care needs. Informal or family caregivers often provide the care and support needed by those with advanced chronic conditions at home. These informal caregivers experience many challenges associated with their caring role, which can impact their own wellbeing. Whilst there is growing evidence around the impact on carers, guidance on support for informal caregivers of patients with advanced, non-malignant, chronic conditions is lacking, with little evidence available on effective psychosocial carer interventions. This systematic review explored existing interventions for caregivers of those with advanced, non-malignant, chronic illness, in order to assess the effectiveness of these interventions in improving psychosocial outcomes.
Electronic databases, Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE and PsycINFO, were searched up to the end of March 2023. Studies meeting the inclusion criteria, focusing on interventions to improve psychosocial outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, quality of life and caregiver burden, in this cohort of caregivers were included. Data were extracted regarding study setting, design, methods, intervention components, and outcomes. Risk of bias and quality assessment were conducted.
5281 articles were screened, ultimately identifying 12 studies for inclusion, reported in 13 publications. A narrative synthesis revealed mixed results. Psychosocial interventions resulted in more significant improvements in psychosocial outcomes than psychoeducational or support interventions; with interventions for carer-patient dyads also reflecting more positive outcomes for caregivers. Evidence-based interventions, guided by an appropriate theoretical model were reportedly more effective in improving caregiver outcomes. Differences in outcomes were related to intervention development, design, delivery, and outcome assessment.
This review, to our knowledge, is the first to explore the effectiveness of interventions in improving psychosocial outcomes for caregivers of those with advanced, non-malignant, chronic conditions. The review highlights the need for more robust, sufficiently powered, high quality trials of evidence-based interventions for caregivers of people with advanced chronic illness. Optimal intervention duration and frequency of sessions is unclear and needs further exploration.
Original languageEnglish
TypeResearch article
Media of outputResearch Square preprint server
Number of pages29
Place of PublicationResearch square
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024


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