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Intergenerational caring: a systematic literature review on young and young adult caregivers of older people

Background: The theme of young family caregivers of older relatives is still partially uncovered, although the phenomenon is increasing worldwide. Methods: This Systematic Literature Review discusses methodological and content issues of ten articles covering this topic, in order to contribute to increase the knowledge and provide suggestions for designing effective support services for adolescent young caregivers. To this purpose, the findings of this review are framed within the caregiving stress appraisal model (renamed CSA model) elaborated by Yates’ and collegues, in order to highlight differences between young caregivers and the older ones. Methods Multiple databases including PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, ProQuest - Psychology Database, CINAHL Complete - EBSCOHost were used to carry out a systematic review of the literature. Additional references were retrieved from experts contacted and research knowledge. The selected articles underwent both methodological appraisal and contents analysis: for every article an appraisal score was calculated and themes and sub-themes were identified. Results: Out of the ten included studies three were mixed methods, six qualitative and one quantitative. Nine reached a high quality methodological score and one medium. Four main themes emerged from the content analysis: aspects of the caregiving relationship; effects of caregiving; coping strategies; recommendations for services, policy and research. Conclusions: Selected studies explored practical features of the relationship between young caregivers and older family members (tasks performed, motivations, coping strategies) and highlighted both positive and negative outcomes on young people’s everyday life condition and future development. Nevertheless, these evidences were often limited to small samples that did not allow to make generalizations. More studies are needed including large samples in order to deepen the different aspects of caregiving and design tailored support services.

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BMC Geriatrics
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