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Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2004 Apr-Jun;18(2):99-109.

A multinational review of recent trends and reports in dementia caregiver burden.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, USA.


This systematic review of the literature focuses on the influence of ethnic, cultural, and geographic factors on the caregivers of patients with dementia. In particular, we explore the impact of cultural expectations on five important questions: 1) Do the characteristics of dementia affect caregiver burden? 2) Do characteristics of the caregiver independently predict burden? 3) Does the caregiver affect patient outcomes? 4) Does support or intervention for caregiver result in reduced caregiver burden or improved patient outcomes? 5) Finally, do patient interventions result in reduced caregiver burden or improved patient outcomes? Our findings suggest that noncognitive, behavioral disturbances of patients with dementia result in increased caregiver burden and that female caregivers bear a particularly heavy burden across cultures, particularly in Asian societies. Caregiver burden influences time to medical presentation of patients with dementia, patient condition at presentation, and patient institutionalization. Moreover, interventions designed to reduce caregiver burden have been largely, although not universally, unsuccessful. Pharmacological treatments for symptoms of dementia were found to be beneficial in reducing caregiver burden. The consistency of findings across studies, geographic regions, cultural differences, and heathcare delivery systems is striking. Yet, there are critical differences in cultural expectations and social resources. Future interventions to reduce caregiver burden must consider these differences, identify patients and caregivers at greatest risk, and develop targeted programs that combine aspects of a number of interventional strategies.

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