A meta-analysis that reveals the relationship between social support and the subjective burden in caregivers

Despite the generally accepted belief that social support improves caregiver adjustment in general and subjective burden in particular, the literature shows mixed findings, and a recent review concluded that the predictive strength of caregiver social support in determining caregiver burden is less evident, due to the conceptual diversity of this determinant.

The purpose of this review is to analyse the relationship of perceived and received social support with subjective burden among informal caregivers of an adult or older adult.

The most important findings were the following:

1) Perceived and received support are not redundant constructs.

2) The relationships between social support and subjective burden depend on whether the social support is measured as perceived or received.

3) The relationship of perceived social support with subjective burden has a bigger effect size than that of received social support, the relation between received support and subjective burden being clinically irrelevant.

4) Perceived social support may be a good predictor of subjective burden.


The findings broadly support interventions promoting social support in caregivers to prevent or alleviate subjective burden, and specifically, to intervene on the promotion of perceived social support more than on the promotion of received social support when preventing or alleviating burden.

The full text is available in: Rafael del-Pino-Casado, Antonio Frías-Osuna, Pedro A. Palomino-Moral, María Ruzafa-Martínez, Antonio J. Ramos-Morcillo. Social support and subjective burden in caregivers of adults and older adults: A meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2018;13(1):e0189874.

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