• BA had a moderate effect on reducing depression in family dementia caregivers. • Other psychological and cardiovascular health can be improved by BA. • Maintaining a log and subsequent checks might enhance the effectiveness of BA. • More studies of BA are needed in family dementia caregivers.
The current study aims to investigate the effectiveness of behavioral activation (BA) for family dementia caregivers. A systematic literature search was conducted through PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, Cochrane, Embase and PsycINFO for studies published from March 1988 to September 2019. Standardized mean differences (SMDs) were combined to synthesize pooled effect measures using random effects. The review was based on ten randomized controlled trials. Depression was significantly reduced after participants received BA (n = 9; 786 participants; SMD = −0.69; 95% CI: −1.12 to −0.25; p = 0.002). BA also has a positive impact on other areas of psychological health (e.g., self-efficacy, anxiety, and distress) and physical health (e.g., interleukin-6) in family dementia caregivers. In conclusion, BA not only has a moderate effect on reducing depression but also has the potential to improve other areas of psychological and cardiovascular health in family caregivers. However, more interventional studies of BA for family dementia caregivers are needed.