How assistive technology use by individuals with disabilities impacts their caregivers: a systematic review of the research evidence.

Mortenson WB, Demers L, Fuhrer MJ, Jutai JW, Lenker J, DeRuyter F.
Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Nov;91(11):984-98. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e318269eceb.

SOURCECentre de recherche de l’institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, Montreal, Canada.

Informal caregivers are a critical yet frequently unacknowledged part of the healthcare system. It is commonly presumed that providing assistive technology will decrease the burden of their care provision; however, no review has evaluated the evidence behind this assumption. Therefore, a systematic review was undertaken to evaluate evidence of the impact of assistive technology use by care recipients on their informal caregivers. Data sources included EMBASE, MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Web of Science, PsychINFO, PubMed, and active researchers in this area. Twenty-two studies met the specified inclusion criteria. Collectively, the findings suggest that assistive technology use helps caregivers by diminishing some of the physical and emotional effort entailed in supporting individuals with disability. However, confidence in this causal connection is limited because of the study designs that were used. This undermines the understanding of the impacts of assistive technology use on the users’ informal caregivers.