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A One-Year Randomized Controlled Psychosocial Intervention Study among Family Carers of Dementia Patients – Effects on Patients and Carers

Ulstein I.D.a, c, d · Sandvik L.b · Bruun Wyller T.c · Engedal K.a, c, d
aDepartment of Geriatric Medicine, Norwegian Centre for Dementia Research, and bCentre for Clinical Research, Ullevaal University Hospital, cDepartment of Geriatric Medicine, University of Oslo, Ullevaal University Hospital, Oslo, and dResearch Centre for Old Age Psychiatric Research, Innlandet Hospital Trust, Ottestad, Norway Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2007;24:469–475 (DOI:10.1159/000110740)


Objective: To test the effect of a short-term psychosocial intervention programme for family carers of patients with dementia and identify characteristics of carers and patients that responded positively. Methods: The study was a multi-centre randomized controlled trial. Carers of 180 patients suffering from dementia recruited at 7 memory clinics at geriatric or psychiatric departments participated in the study. Carers of the intervention group were educated about dementia and in 6 group meetings taught how to use structured problem-solving. The control group received treatment as usual. The effect on patients was measured with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and on carers with the Relatives’ Stress Scale (RSS). Results: The intention-to-treat efficacy analysis included 171 carer/patient dyads. The intervention did not have any effect on the primary outcome variables. The burden measured by the RSS increased in both groups; however, more carers of the control group converted from a low-burden group to a medium- or high-burden group after 4.5 months. In a subgroup analysis we found a statistically significant difference in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory score in favour of the intervention group among female patients. Conclusion: The predominately negative result of this study emphasizes the need of individually tailored interventions for carers and the use of narrow inclusion criteria when performing group-based interventions, such as the extent of burden as well as gender and kinship.


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