Meta-review on support for carers

Posted on 4 April 2017

The latest report from our Evidence Synthesis Centre has been published, an updated meta-review (review of reviews) of evidence on support for carers.

The need to support people who care for others on an unpaid basis (known sometimes as informal care) is now generally recognised. Effective support for carers might help to overcome difficulties relating to their physical and mental health, burden and stress, ability and knowledge to cope, and overall well-being. Good outcomes for carers may also benefit the person being cared for.

The purpose of this research was to update what is known about effective activities to support carers of ill, disabled or older adults. We conducted a rapid meta-review (review of reviews) of any evidence relevant to a UK health and social care system.

We found that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for support carers. Carers of people with dementia might benefit from sharing their experiences with others, learning to think about problems differently, meditation and computer-based support. Carers of people with cancer might try art-based activities or counselling, or learn how their social surroundings can help with their feelings about problems. Counselling may also assist carers of people with stroke. There was little information on the cost-effectiveness of support for carers. Better-quality research is needed in future, together with further work on whether or not and how respite care might help carers.

Thomas S, Dalton J, Harden M, Eastwood A, Parker G. Updated meta-review of evidence on support for carersHealth Serv Deliv Res 2017;5(12)

The Centre, funded by NIHR, synthesises evidence on a range of topics to inform the organisation and delivery of services. Ongoing topics include the provision of services for UK armed forces veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).