Background: Improved life expectancy is resulting in increased outpatient treatment of people with chronic physical health conditions and reliance on the provision of informal care in the community. However, informal care is also associated with increased risk of experiencing common mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety. Currently there is a lack of evidence-based treatments for such difficulties, resulting in poor health outcomes for both the informal carer and care recipient.
Methods/Design: Electronic databases will be systemically searched for randomised controlled trials examining the effectiveness of psychological interventions targeted at treating depression or anxiety experienced by informal carers of patients with chronic physical health conditions. Database searches will be supplemented by contact with experts, reference and citation checking and grey literature. Both published and unpublished research in English language will be reviewed with no limitations on year or source. Individual, group and patient-carer dyad focused interventions will be eligible. Primary outcomes of interest will be validated self-report or clinician administered measures of depression or anxiety. If data allows a meta-analysis will examine: (1) the overall effectiveness of psychological interventions in relation to outcomes of depression or anxiety; (2) intervention components associated with effectiveness.
Discussion: This review will provide evidence on the effectiveness of psychological interventions for depression and anxiety experienced by informal carers of patients with chronic physical health conditions. In addition, it will examine intervention components associated with effectiveness. Results will inform the design and development of a psychological intervention for carers of people with chronic physical health conditions experiencing depression and anxiety.
PROSPERO registration number: CRD42012003114