Scoping review of research on interventions to support carers
The study comprises a scoping review of the research literature on carers; the findings are intended to inform policy and practice for carers, as well as identifying future research areas.
SPRU research team
- Gillian Parker
- Hilary Arksey
Policy and research interest in carers and those who provide support, on an unpaid basis, to sick, disabled or older people to enable them to live in their own homes has grown in importance over the past 30 years. Since the first UK review of evidence on carers in 1985, the national and international body of research literature has grown substantially. It now covers data on, inter alia, the prevalence of care-giving; the impact and outcomes of caring for people with care-giving responsibilities; issues related to combining paid work and care; and the effectiveness of support and services for carers. Since 1995, the UK Government has introduced legislation and policy measures aimed specifically at carers, as well as setting up a cross-departmental Standing Commission on Carers. The revised 2008 national strategy for carers contains the Government’s ten-year vision for carers.
The aim of the scoping review was to provide the Department of Health with an overview of the evidence base relating to the outcomes and cost-effectiveness of support for unpaid carers of sick, disabled or older people. It was intended to inform thinking by the Department of Health and the Standing Commission on Carers about how best to improve outcomes for carers, as well as identifying future research areas. Specific objectives of the study were:
- to undertake a scoping review of existing literature reviews, including systematic reviews, on support and interventions for carers
- to map out the extent, range and nature of the identified reviews on support and interventions for carers
- to summarise the main findings of the identified reviews
- to identify gaps and weaknesses in the evidence base.
The scoping review covered national and international literature reviews published since 2000 to date and written in English only.
The strongest evidence of effectiveness was in relation to interventions that provided targeted education, training and information activities for carers. However, overall the evidence base was found to be poor.