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Review: supportive interventions may improve short-term psychological distress in informal caregivers of patients at the end of life

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What are the effects of supportive interventions on the psychological and physical health of informal caregivers of terminally ill patients?


Psychological and physical health outcomes.



Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources

The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO; CINAHL; and Dissertation Abstracts were searched to May 2010, and the National Health Service Research Register to November 2008. Reference lists of included trials and relevant reviews and the peer-reviewed journals are Palliative Medicine, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management and the British Journal of Psychiatry (from January 2005 to May 2010) were hand searched and experts in the field were contacted to identify other potentially relevant studies. There were no language or date restrictions.

Study selection and analysis

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions to support an informal (ie, unpaid) adult care giver of a patient at the end of life were included. The comparator was usual care. Trials had to have a main aim of assessing the effect of the intervention on the care giver. Patients had to be in the terminal phase. Care recipients could be living at home, in the community or any …

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  • Sources of funding Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Unit, UK.


  • Competing interests None.

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