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A systematic review of Internet-based supportive interventions for caregivers of patients with dementia

Authors

  • L. M. M. Boots,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology and Alzheimer Centre Limburg, School for Mental Health and Neurosciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • M. E. de Vugt,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology and Alzheimer Centre Limburg, School for Mental Health and Neurosciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • R. J. M. van Knippenberg,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology and Alzheimer Centre Limburg, School for Mental Health and Neurosciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • G. I. J. M. Kempen,

    1. Department of Health Services Research and CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • F. R. J. Verhey

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology and Alzheimer Centre Limburg, School for Mental Health and Neurosciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
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Abstract

Objective

Because of the expected increase in the number of dementia patients, the unlikelihood of a cure in the near future, and the rising cost of care, there is an increasing need for effective caregiver interventions. Internet interventions hold considerable promise for meeting the educational and support needs of informal dementia caregivers at reduced costs. The current study aims to provide an overview of the evidence for the effectiveness, feasibility, and quality of Internet interventions for informal caregivers of people with dementia.

Methods

A systematic literature search of five scientific databases was performed, covering literature published up to 10 January 2013. Twelve studies were identified. The quality of the included studies was assessed according to the Cochrane level of evidence and the criteria list of the Cochrane Back Review Group.

Results

The intervention types, dosage, and duration differed widely, as did the methodological quality of the included studies. The overall level of evidence was low. However, the results demonstrate that Internet interventions for informal dementia caregivers can improve various aspects of caregiver well-being, for example, confidence, depression, and self-efficacy, provided they comprise multiple components and are tailored to the individual. Furthermore, caregivers could benefit from interaction with a coach and other caregivers.

Conclusions

Internet interventions for informal dementia caregivers may improve caregiver well-being. However, the available supporting evidence lacks methodological quality. More randomized controlled studies assessing interventions performed according to protocol are needed to give stronger statements about the effects of supportive Internet interventions and their most promising elements. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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