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A Scoping Review of Literature on Sex and Gender Differences Among Dementia Spousal Caregivers

Background and Objectives Sex and gender differences among dementia spousal caregivers have been investigated, but never systematically reviewed or synthesized. A synthesis of findings can help facilitate specificity in practice and in health policy development. As a first step towards such a synthesis, this scoping review reports the available evidence, identifies research gaps, and suggests possible directions for future research. Research Design and Methods A scoping review methodology was used to identify articles, and to chart and analyze data. Systematic searches for published, empirical studies, with an explicit goal or hypothesis related to sex or gender differences were conducted in seven databases. Results Sixty-one studies met inclusion criteria. Most (n = 45) were quantitative, cross-sectional studies. Caregivers included in the studies were generally 61–70 years old, Caucasian, middle-class, and highly educated. The most extensively investigated differences are: depression, burden, objective physical health, and informal supports. Discussion and Implications This scoping review is the first to summarize and critique the research on sex and gender differences that are specific to dementia spousal caregivers. The review can be used by researchers to make decisions regarding future systematic reviews and primary studies. To further strengthen the evidence base, future studies may benefit from including more caregivers of ethnic minorities, using more qualitative, longitudinal, or experimental designs, and focusing on variables needed to inform caregiving models and theories. Overall, this scoping review contributes to furthering gender-sensitive practices and policies that are better tailored to the specific needs of this population. 

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Oxford university press
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The Gerontologist
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