Sense of coherence, burden and mental health in caregiving: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Increased life expectancy and current trends in population aging is leading to higher levels of dependency for older people, increasing the needs for care. Most of this care is delivered by unpaid carers, this informal care is associated with a series of negative effects on the physical and psychological well-being of caregivers.

The salutogenic theory argues that the sense of coherence (SOC) is an important factor in psychological adjustment to stress, but there are currently no systematic reviews of the literature quantifying the association of SOC with caregiver burden and mental health outcomes. The main aim of this study, developed by members of our research group within the line of Caregivers and informal and family care, was to systematically review current evidence on the association between SOC, burden and mental health outcomes in informal carers.

A systematic search was carried out up to September 2017 in several databases, a total of 35 articles were selected. Meta-analyses provided 40 independent samples with 22 independent comparisons for subjective caregiver burden, 26 for symptoms of depression and 7 for symptoms of anxiety. Higher levels of SOC were associated with lower levels of subjective caregiver burden and better mental health outcomes.

Findings suggest that SOC is an important determinant of carer well-being and may protect carers from high levels of psychological distress and caregiver burden.

The full text is available at: del-Pino-Casado R, Espinosa-Medina A, López-Martínez C, Orgeta V. Sense of coherence, burden and mental health in caregiving: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2019; 242:14-21.

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