Telephone interventions, delivered by healthcare professionals, for informal caregivers of adults with diagnosed medical illnesses

Many people with diagnosed medical conditions are dependent upon family members and informal/lay caregivers to provide support and care. The care provided varies according to the individual's care needs, however, in many instances, people unexpectedly find themselves in a caring role for which they are ill prepared (Corry, 2015). Providing care may impact negatively on the caregiver from an emotional, physical, social and financial perspective (Care Alliance Ireland 2010, Glendinning et al. 2009, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2011). Family members providing unpaid care have been described as a hidden patient group (Golics et al. 2013, p.795). Having access to people with the required knowledge and skill to provide support, in particular emotional support (Golics et al, 2013), may ease the transition and potential feelings of isolation. Caregivers report similar experiences regardless of the illness of the care recipient. In a UK study, Golics et al. (2013) reported that caregivers, caring for family members with a range of illness, experienced worry, frustration, anger and guilt. For some, the adjustment to the role is difficult and requires significant emotional and life changes.
As caregivers are in the community, are regionally and nationally dispersed, and, are often in paid employment in addition to their unpaid caregiving role (OECD, 2011), face-to-face contact with people who can provide emotional support and advice is not always feasible. Telephone communication is widely available, internationally, with almost everyone having some form of access to a telephone Consequently, this review sets out to determine the effectiveness of a telephone support intervention, such aover-the-phone education and psychosocial support, delivered exclusively by healthcare professionals, for caregivers of people with acute and chronic medical illness. It is important to identify the effectiveness of such interventions so that health care professionals can optimise on the use of the telephone as a mode of providing support to, and, improving the health and wellbeing of caregivers. In addition, evidence of effectiveness of such interventions is important to health research funders when reviewing funding proposals, and to healthcare policy and guideline developers.
The objective of this review is to evaluate the effectiveness of telephone support interventions, delivered by healthcare professionals, for informal carers of people with diagnosed illnesses, on these carers quality of life, psychosocial and physical well-being. A robust protocol, detailing the methodology/methods to address the review objective, will be developed. The protocol and the subsequent review will be guided by the Cochrane Consumers and Communication Review Group resources, which provide guidance for authors on the conduct of reviews of the Group. These resources include guidance on standard protocol headings, search strategy development and application, types of studies to be included and guidelines on reporting the review. Background detail will be provided on the review topic and its importance. Detail will also be provided on the participants, interventions, outcomes (primary and secondary), search methods for identification of studies, methods for data collection, extraction, assessment of bias and methods of data analyses.

Award Date
18 September 2015
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Ms Margarita Corry
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Cochrane Training Fellowships