Featured Review: Mindfulness‐based stress reduction for family carers of people with dementia

Caring for people with dementia is highly challenging, and family carers are recognised as being at increased risk of physical and mental ill‐health. Most current interventions have limited success in reducing stress among carers of people with dementia. Mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR) draws on a range of practices and may be a promising approach to helping carers of people with dementia.

A recent review from Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement included five RCTs involving 201 carers assessing the effectiveness of MBSR.

After accounting for non‐specific effects of the intervention (i.e. comparing it with an active control), low‐quality evidence suggests that MBSR may reduce carers' depressive symptoms and anxiety, at least in the short term. There are significant limitations to the evidence base on MBSR in this population. GRADE assessment of the evidence was low to very low quality. The authors downgraded the quality of the evidence primarily because of high risk of detection or performance bias, and imprecision.

To summarise, the review provides preliminary evidence on the effect of MBSR in treating some stress‐related problems of family carers of people with dementia. More good‐quality studies are needed before we can confirm whether or not MBSR is beneficial for family carers of people with dementia.