Evidence-based psychological treatments for distress in family caregivers of older adults

Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, David Coon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


This review identifies evidence-based psychological treatments (EBTs) for reducing distress, and improving well-being, of family members caring for an older relative with significant cognitive and/or physical impairment. Three categories of psychologically derived treatments met EBT criteria: psychoeducational programs (N = 14 studies), psychotherapy (N = 3 studies), and multicomponent interventions (N = 2 studies). Specifically, support within the psychoeducational category was found for skill-training programs focused on behavior management, depression management, and anger management and for the progressively lowered threshold model. Within the psychotherapy category, cognitive-behavioral therapy enjoys strong empirical support. Within the multicomponent category, programs using a combination of at least 2 distinct theoretical approaches (e.g., individual counseling and support group attendance) were also found to be effective. Suggestions for future research include the development of more well-integrated multicomponent approaches, greater inclusion of ethnically diverse family caregivers in research protocols, and greater incorporation of new technologies for treatment delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-51
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Caregiving
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Depression
  • Distress
  • Evidence-based psychological treatments
  • Family caregivers
  • Intervention research
  • Psychoeducation
  • Psychotherapy
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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