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

PI: Amaia Calderón-Larrañaga

Assistant Professor in Medicine

In Sweden, aging demographics and policy changes in eldercare have raised the number of older people living the last part of their life at home. Many of these individuals have complex needs requiring additional support beyond that provided by public services. Consequently, a major trend towards the informalization of social care has taken place since the beginning of the 2000s. While providing informal care may be a positive experience, it can also lead to a state of subjective burden characterized by fatigue and stress in the caregiver, and a higher risk of institutionalization and psychiatric symptoms in the care recipient.

Cost-effective caregiver support policies can potentially lead to increased well-being and, thus, reduce care recipients’ demand for expensive institutional care. Although the literature regarding the management of caregiver burden is rapidly expanding, we still do not know how best to support the diverse needs of informal caregivers. This is mainly due to a lack of nuance in understanding how the needs may differ according to the characteristics of caregivers, care recipients, caregiving experiences, and contexts of care.

The aim of this umbrella review is to synthesize the evidence from existing systematic reviews and meta-syntheses that evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to address the negative health consequences of informal caregiving for older people. Specific research questions are:

  • i) Are there effective interventions to improve the management of caregiver burden?
  • ii) Are certain types of interventions more effective than others?
  • iii) How are the proposed interventions experienced by caregivers in terms of acceptability, feasibility and added value?

By providing a comprehensive and reasoned overview of the effectiveness of different types of support services targeting informal caregivers, the present umbrella review will provide a unique contribution to future policy and practice development supporting caregivers of older people.

Researchers participating in the project

Amaia Calderón-Larrañaga (PI), Lena Dahlberg, Lucas Morin, Lawrence Sacco.