Harding, R., List, S., Epiphaniou, E., & Jones, H. (2012). How can informal caregivers in cancer and palliative care be supported? An updated systematic literature review of interventions and their effectiveness. Palliative Medicine, 26, 7–22.doi: 10.1177/0269216311409613
To update and evaluate intervention studies and current state of the science regarding support for caregivers in a systematic review
Group interventions were studied most often, although only two of the studies included reported a statistically significant benefit compared to controls. The next largest group of studies investigated one-on-one psychological interventions. Two of these showed a positive effect for patient/carer dyads. Overall findings were equivocal, with about the same number of studies showing significant improvement with the intervention as those showing no change or difference between groups. The nature and timing of interventions varied greatly across studies included.
The authors identified seven categories of interventions: (a) one-on-one psychological, (b) dyad psychological, (c) palliative care/hospice (delivery), (d) informational/training, (e) respite, (f) group intervention, and (g) physical.
Given the limitations, differences in the nature of interventions reviewed, and inconsistencies of findings across studies, this review does not provide strong support for any particular type of intervention.
This summary has limited guidance due to lack of synthesis to actually guide practice. There were also inconsistencies between the inclusion and exclusion criteria and the studies reported; not all have clear implications to cancer, affect active information caregivers, or measure caregiver outcomes.