[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 2 Issue 5, December 2011].
This systematic review investigated the effectiveness of cognitive reframing (a component of cognitive behavioral therapy) in dementia care, as a means of changing family carers’ maladaptive, self-defeating or distressing understanding of their relatives’ behaviour, in order to reduce stress and, potentially, as a way of improving their performance in caring roles.
Analysis of pooled data from randomised controlled trials showed a beneficial effect of cognitive reframing interventions on carers’ anxiety levels, depression, and subjective stress. Conversely, there was no discernible improvement to carers’ actual ability to cope, their appraisal of the burden of care, their reactions to their relatives’ behaviour, or outcomes for the people with dementia receiving the care (in terms of postponed institutionalisation).
The authors of this review conclude that while cognitive reframing for family carers may help reduce psychological problems relating to stress, these interventions are not a “magic bullet”. They should be seen, at best, as an effective component among other individualised, multi-component interventions for carers. The impact of cognitive reframing might be higher when combined with other more tangible interventions relating to the everyday problems of carers.
Vernooij-Dassen, M. Draskovic, I. [and] McCleery, J. [et al] (2011). Cognitive reframing for carers of people with dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Online), 2011, Issue 11, No.CD005318. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).