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Interventions to Support Family Caregivers in Pain Management: A Systematic Review

      Abstract

      Context

      Family caregivers encounter many challenges when managing pain for their loved ones. There is a lack of clear recommendations on how to prepare caregivers in pain management.

      Objectives

      To evaluate existing interventions that support family caregivers in providing pain management to patients with all disease types.

      Methods

      Four electronic databases were systematically searched (PubMed, Cumulative Index for Nursing Allied Health Literature, PsycINFO, and Scopus) using index and keyword methods for articles published before December 2019. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool was used to assess the quality.

      Results

      The search identified 6851 studies, and 25 studies met the inclusion criteria. Only two studies exclusively focused on noncancer populations (8%). Three types of interventions were identified in this review: educational interventions, cognitive-behavioral interventions, and technology-based interventions. Both educational and cognitive-behavioral interventions improved family caregiver and patient outcomes, but the content and intensity of these interventions in these studies varied widely, and there was a limited number of randomized clinical trials (68%). Hence, it is unclear what strategies are most effective to prepare family caregivers in pain management. Technology-based interventions were feasible to support family caregivers in providing pain management.

      Conclusion

      Providing adequate pain management training can improve patient and family caregiver outcomes. However, the most effective interventions for family caregivers are still unclear. More rigorous and replicable clinical trials are needed to examine the effects of educational interventions, cognitive-behavioral interventions, and technology-based interventions. Also, more studies are needed in patients with a noncancer diagnosis or multimorbidity.

      Key Words

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