Psychological Intervention Effective for Dementia Caretakers

HealthDay News — Psychological intervention is both clinically and cost effective for family carers of people with dementia, according to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Gill Livingston, MD, from University College London, and colleagues examined the clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of a psychological intervention (STrAtegies for RelaTives [START]) for family carers of people with dementia.

Carers were recruited from Nov. 4, 2009, to June 8, 2011, and were randomized to START (140 carers), an eight-session, manual-based coping intervention delivered by supervised psychology graduates, or to treatment as usual (TAU; 69 carers). Clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness were assessed at two years after patients were randomly assigned to either group.

Compared with TAU, the START group had significantly reduced symptoms (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale total score) at 24 months (mean difference, −2.58; P=0.003), the researchers found.

For both carers and patients, the intervention was found to be cost-effective (at £20,000 per quality-adjusted life-year willingness-to-pay threshold, 67% probability of cost-effectiveness; at £30,000 threshold, 70% probability of cost effectiveness).

“This cost-neutral intervention, which substantially improves family-carers’ mental health and quality of life, should therefore be widely available,” the authors wrote.


  1. Livingston G et al. Lancet Pschiatry. 2014; doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00073-X.

Disclosures: One author disclosed financial ties to GE Healthcare and Lundbeck.