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Alzheimers Dement. 2013 May;9(3):346-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2012.01.012. Epub 2012 Nov 2.

Predictors and outcomes for caregivers of people with mild cognitive impairment: a systematic literature review.

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Dementia Collaborative Research Centre, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



Dementia caregiving is strongly linked to depression, anxiety, and burden in caregivers. Little is known about whether the same holds for people supporting an older person with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). We aim to systematically review the current evidence for negative caregiver outcomes in MCI using Pearlin and colleagues' stress process model as a theoretical framework.


Widely used scientific literature databases were searched using MCI- and caregiver-related terms with "AND" relations. Results were limited to quantitative English language articles published in peer-reviewed journals between 1980 and November 2010.


Of the 266 identified articles, six reported relevant depression data on 988 MCI caregivers (73% spouses). The pooled Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D) mean score was 12.95 (standard deviation = 6.16). The pooled depression prevalence (i.e., CES-D score ≥ 16 or equivalent) was 23%. Two studies compared depression in MCI and dementia caregivers, indicating higher levels in dementia caregivers. Other outcomes, such as burden, stress, or anxiety, were only investigated by individual studies precluding pooling of data. Similarly, pooling of the data on the predictors of caregiver outcomes was impossible because of data heterogeneity. However, descriptive analysis of predictors revealed that Pearlin and colleagues' caregiver stress process model at least partially applies to the MCI context.


The studies reviewed were all cross sectional in design, involving clinical samples, thus limiting generalizability. Depression and psychological comorbidity, although not as pronounced as in dementia caregivers, are common complications in MCI caregivers. The long-term course of outcomes in MCI caregivers requires further investigation.

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