Background The majority of patients with Alzheimer's disease live outside institutions and there is considerable serious psychological morbidity among their carers.
Aims To evaluate whether family intervention reduces the subjective burden of care in carers of patients with Alzheimer's disease and produces clinical benefits in the patients.
Method A prospective single-blind randomised controlled trial with three-month follow-up in which the experimental group received family intervention and was compared with two control groups.
Results There were significant reductions in distress and depression in the intervention group compared with control groups at post-treatment and follow-up. There were significant reductions in behavioural disturbance at post-treatment and an increase in activities at three months in patients in the intervention group. Based on an improvement on the General Health Questionnaire resulting in a carer converting from a case to a non-case, the number to treat was three immediately post-treatment and two at follow-up.
Conclusions Family intervention can have significant benefits in carers of patients with Alzheimer's disease and has a positive impact on patient behaviour.