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Review: Psychological interventions for caregivers of people with dementia

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A Selwood

Correspondence to: A Selwood, Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College London, Archway Campus, Holborn Union Building, Highgate Hill, London N19 5NL, UK;



Are psychological interventions effective for family caregivers of people with dementia?


Quantitative outcome measures of caregiver psychological health, including depression, distress, and burden.



Systematic review.

Data sources:

“Electronic databases” were searched in July 2003, including a hand search of reference lists. The Cochrane Library was also searched and an additional hand search of four journals was also conducted.

Study selection and analysis:

All primary research studies with quantitative outcome measures of caregiver psychological health. Search terms were broad and most studies were included. Exclusions: studies in caregivers of people without dementia; studies only reporting outcomes in the person with dementia; interventions involving medication or not based on an explicit psychological model (for example, aromatherapy). Depending on research quality, each study was assigned an evidence grade according to guidelines of the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine. On this scale, more robust study types (for example, RCTs) score fewer points, with the levels …

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  • Notes: “No evidence of benefit” should not be interpreted as “evidence of no benefit”. In some cases, the evidence behind an intervention was inconsistent and no conclusions could be drawn about its efficacy. This applies to dementia-specific therapy, and to the effects of group and individual caregiver coping sessions on caregiver burden, which were given a grade D for the strength of the recommendation.

  • Source of funding: No information provided.

  • ▸ An additional table is published online only at