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Web-based interventions to improve mental health in home caregivers of people with dementia: Meta-analysis

Background: Dementia is a major cause of disability and dependency in older adults worldwide. It is often accompanied by general psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety symptoms, among caregivers of people with dementia (PwD). The physical and mental health of the caregiver is a prerequisite and a promise to help PwD continue to live as long and as well as possible. Web-based interventions can provide convenient and efficient support and an education tool to potentially reduce the negative outcomes associated with providing care. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effect of internet-based interventions on the mental health outcomes of family caregivers of PwD and to explore which components of the Web-based interventions play an important role. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted in PubMed, Excerpta Medica dataBASE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Database, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature using relevant terms such as Web-based and caregiver as keywords, covering all studies published before June 2018. A total of 2 reviewers independently reviewed all published abstracts, according to established inclusion and exclusion criteria. We extracted information about the participants, interventions, and results and reviewed article quality in terms of the randomized trial methods, using the approach recommended by the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Results: A total of 815 caregivers participated in 6 studies, with 4 of the studies using depression as an outcome. The analysis found that depression scores dropped an average of 0.23 (95% CI -0.38 to -0.07; P<.01) after Web-based interventions. In 2 studies of caregivers who were experiencing anxiety symptoms, the average score for anxiety dropped by 0.32 points (95% CI -0.50 to -0.14; P<.01). However, in terms of coping, pain, and stress, the Web-based interventions showed a poor effect. On the whole, the addition of professional psychological support on the basis of education can improve caregivers' mental health. Conclusions: Internet-based interventions were generally effective at reducing anxiety and depression in dementia caregivers, although negative results were found in some studies. As for burden and stress, further research is required. 

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JMIR Publications
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Journal of Medical Internet Research
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