Background: providing support to a family member with dementia often comes at a cost to the quality of life (QoL) of the carer (caregiver), giving rise to current and future unmet needs for health and social care and support themselves. These have important implications for costeffective health and social care support services and pathways. This article summarises the findings of a scoping review of the literature on QoL measures for carers of people with dementia that was commissioned by the Medical Research Council to address what is ‘state of the art’ in measurement and identification, any gaps in the evidence base, and challenges for further research.
Method: a scope of the literature using Medline and Psychlit (all years) as these are particularly relevant to health psychology was undertaken in March 2013, using combinations of the following keywords: quality of life, measure, scale, caregiver (including carer), chronic illness (the term long-term condition is generally captured under this phrase), dementia, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease. Results: there is a dearth of carer-reported QoL measures, in contrast to the existence of proxy scales for carers which are used to measure the patient’s/client’s QoL (prevalent in relation to dementia). Several methodological challenges were identified.
Conclusion: caring for people with dementia often has both negative and positive consequences which need inclusion in measures but these may vary by individual and over time. The lack of consensus about what to measure and how in QoL of carers of people with dementia does not help practitioners or service funders. Measures need to be appropriate for younger and older carers, type of carer and caring tasks, and be sensitive to cultural and sociodemographic differences.