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Internet-Based Interventions for Carers of Individuals With Psychiatric Disorders, Neurological Disorders, or Brain Injuries: Systematic Review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10876
Pages (from-to)e10876
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number7
Published9 Jul 2019

King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Nonprofessional carers who provide support to an individual with a psychiatric or neurological disorder will often themselves experience symptoms of stress, anxiety, or low mood, and they perceive that they receive little support. Internet-based interventions have previously been found to be effective in the prevention and treatment of a range of mental health difficulties in carers. OBJECTIVE: This review seeks to establish the status of internet-based interventions for informal (nonprofessional) carers of people with psychiatric or neurological disorders by investigating (1) the number and quality of studies evaluating the efficacy or effectiveness of internet-based carer interventions and (2) the impact that such interventions have on carer mental health, as well as (3) how internet-based interventions compare with other intervention types (eg, face-to-face treatment). METHODS: A systematic literature search was conducted in January 2019 using the EMBASE (1974-present), Ovid MEDLINE (1946-present), PsychARTICLES, PsychINFO (1806-present), and Global Health (1973-present) databases, via the Ovid Technologies database. Search terms included carer, caregiver, online, technology, internet-based, internet, interactive, intervention, and evaluation. Studies selected for inclusion in this review met the following predetermined criteria: (1) delivering an intervention aimed primarily at informal carers, (2) carers supporting individuals with psychiatric disorders, stroke, dementia, or brain injury, (3) the intervention delivered to the carers was primarily internet based, (4) the study reported a pre- and postquantitative measure of carer depression, anxiety, stress, burden, or quality of life, (5) appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, and (6) was accessible in English. RESULTS: A total of 46 studies were identified for inclusion through the detailed search strategy. The search was conducted, and data were extracted independently by 2 researchers. The majority of studies reported that 1 or more measures relating to carer mental health improved following receipt of a relevant intervention, with interventions for carers of people with traumatic brain injury showing a consistent link with improved outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Studies investigating internet-based interventions for carers of individuals with diverse psychiatric or neurological difficulties show some evidence in support of the effectiveness of these interventions. In addition, such interventions are acceptable to carers. Available evidence is of varying quality, and more high-quality trials are needed. Further research should also establish how specific intervention components, such as structure or interactivity, contribute to their overall efficacy with regard to carer mental health.

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