Are Interventions for Formal Caregivers Effective for Improving Dementia Care? A Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews

Justine S. Sefcik, Marie Boltz, Maria Dellapina, Laura N. Gitlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Several systematic reviews exist that examine the efficacy of educational interventions in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) designed to improve formal caregivers’ knowledge and skills and/or the outcomes of persons living with dementia. The aim of this article is to summarize existing systematic reviews to assess the effectiveness of educational interventions tested in RCTs and directed at formal caregivers. Research Design and Methods: Smith et al.’s methodology guided this systematic review of systematic reviews. We used the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines and the A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews 2 (AMSTAR 2) for quality appraisals. Reviews were included if they contained interventions with an RCT design that focused on changing staff behavior and/or practice toward persons living with dementia, in any setting and for any health care discipline. Results: We identified six systematic reviews, one rated as high-quality on the AMSTAR 2. Most interventions were directed at nursing staff, in long-term care facilities, focused on agitation, and were atheoretical. There is insufficient evidence to guide implementation of currently tested interventions; however, training in communication skills, person-centered care, and dementia-care mapping with supervision show promise for improving agitation. Discussion and Implications: There’s a critical need for additional research with well-designed RCTs, and clear reporting of protocols and findings to inform the field on how best to train and support the workforce. Although there is no conclusive evidence on what interventions are most effective, it could be argued that providing training using interventions with modest evidence of impact is better than no training at all until the evidence base is strengthened.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberigac005
JournalInnovation in Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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