Objective: caregiver effects of geriatric care models focusing primarily at the patient have not been consistently studied. We studied caregiver effects of a nurse-led comprehensive geriatric evaluation and management (GEM) programme for community-dwelling frail older people that showed—in a randomised comparison with usual care-–health-related quality of life benefits for the care receivers.
Methods: this randomised trial included 110 caregiver/patient dyads who were followed up for 6 months. Primary analyses were intention-to-treat analyses of caregiver burden assessed with Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI; 0–88; higher means more burden). Preplanned subgroup analyses were conducted for cognition, living arrangement and patient/caregiver co-residence.
Results: overall, perceived caregiver burden showed no significant differences between study groups in changes over time. However, perceived burden was at baseline more than eight points higher in caregivers sharing a household with patients ( n = 23) compared to caregivers living separately ( n = 87). The intervention performed better in caregivers living together with the patient than in caregivers living separately ( P for interaction = 0.04). Co-resident caregivers experienced six-Zarit point improvement compared with four-point deterioration in the non-co-resident caregivers.
Conclusions: GEM at home benefited patients, but maybe not caregivers. Caregiver effects are related to whether caregivers live with the patient or not.