Effects of a psychological intervention in a primary health care center for caregivers of dependent relatives: a randomized trial.


Rodriguez-Sanchez E, Patino-Alonso MC, Mora-Simón S, Gómez-Marcos MA, Pérez-Peñaranda A, Losada-Baltar A, García-Ortiz L.
Gerontologist. 2013 Jun;53(3):397-406. doi: 10.1093/geront/gns086. Epub 2012 Aug 16

Address correspondence to Emiliano Rodríguez-Sánchez, Unidad de Investigación, Centro de salud La Alamedilla, Avda. Comuneros 27, 37003 Salamanca, Spain. E-mail: emiliano@usal.es.

PURPOSE:  To assess, in the context of Primary Health Care (PHC), the effect of a psychological intervention in mental health among caregivers (CGs) of dependent relatives.

DESIGN AND METHODS:  Randomized multicenter, controlled clinical trial. The 125 CGs included in the trial were receiving health care in PHC. Inclusion criteria: Identifying oneself as principal CG of a dependent relative with dementia or any other disability, and having performed this task for at least 6 months. CGs were randomized to an intervention group (cognitive-behavioral treatment for managing dysfunctional thoughts about caregiving and training in self-help techniques) or to a control group (care as usual). CG mental health (General Health Questionnaire [GHQ-12]), dysfunctional thoughts about caregiving, quality of life, and burden were measured.

RESULTS:  The intervention group showed improvement in mental health: A mean reduction in GHQ-12 score of -3.33 points was recorded in the intervention group vs. the control group (95% CI: -5.95 to -0.70; p = .01; Cohen d = 0.55). Improvement was also recorded in dysfunctional thoughts about caregiving: (-5.84; 95% CI: -10.60 to -1.09; p = .01; Cohen d = 0.62). Among the CGs that completed the initial and final assessments, a mean of 4.77 (SD 2.68) attended a maximum of 8 sessions. Men attended more often (5.00 sessions with SD 2.68) than women (4.70 sessions with SD 2.45; p < .001).

IMPLICATIONS:   Psychological group intervention in the context of PHC, aimed at the CGs of dependent persons with dementia and other disabilities, has improved mental health condition in CGs.