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What works to support carers of older people and older carers? an international evidence map of interventions and outcomes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gemma Frances SpiersORCiD, Dr Michelle TanORCiD, Kate LanyiORCiD, Oleta Williams, Fiona Beyer, Professor Dawn CraigORCiD, Professor Barbara Hanratty



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© The Author(s) 2024.Background: Unpaid carers of older people, and older unpaid carers, experience a range of adverse outcomes. Supporting carers should therefore be a public health priority. Our understanding of what works to support carers could be enhanced if future evaluations prioritise under-researched interventions and outcomes. To support this, we aimed to: map evidence about interventions to support carers, and the outcomes evaluated; and identify key gaps in current evidence. Methods: Evidence gap map review methods were used. Searches were carried out in three bibliographic databases for quantitative evaluations of carer interventions published in OECD high-income countries between 2013 and 2023. Interventions were eligible if they supported older carers (50 + years) of any aged recipient, or any aged carers of older people (50 + years). Findings: 205 studies reported across 208 publications were included in the evidence map. The majority evaluated the impact of therapeutic and educational interventions on carer burden and carers’ mental health. Some studies reported evidence about physical exercise interventions and befriending and peer support for carers, but these considered a limited range of outcomes. Few studies evaluated interventions that focused on delivering financial information and advice, pain management, and physical skills training for carers. Evaluations rarely considered the impact of interventions on carers’ physical health, quality of life, and social and financial wellbeing. Very few studies considered whether interventions delivered equitable outcomes. Conclusion: Evidence on what works best to support carers is extensive but limited in scope. A disproportionate focus on mental health and burden outcomes neglects other important areas where carers may need support. Given the impact of caring on carers’ physical health, financial and social wellbeing, future research could evaluate interventions that aim to support these outcomes. Appraisal of whether interventions deliver equitable outcomes across diverse carer populations is critical.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Spiers G, Tan MMC, Astbury JL, Hall A, Ahmed N, Lanyi K, Williams O, Beyer F, Craig D, Hanratty B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Geriatrics

Year: 2024

Volume: 24

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 29/03/2024

Acceptance date: 15/03/2024

Date deposited: 09/04/2024

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2318

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12877-024-04897-3


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Funder referenceFunder name
National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
Policy Research Unit Older People and Frailty
PR-PRU-1217-21502National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)