Sex and gender differences in caregiving burden experienced by family caregivers of persons with dementia: A systematic review [2020]

Objectives
Much is known about the demands of caregiving for persons with dementia (PWD) and its effects on family caregivers, however sex and gender aspects have received less attention. We synthesized the evidence on sex and gender distinctions in: (1) the caregiving burden and (2) the impact of caregiving on the physical and mental health of family caregivers of PWD.

Design
Systematic review.

Data sources
Medline, Embase, PsycINFO and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature between January 2007 and October 2019 were searched.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies
Included studies met the following criteria: (1) examine experiences and/or impacts of caregiving among family caregivers of individuals with any form of dementia; (2) report sex and/or gender distribution of study population and/or report results stratified by sex and/or gender, and (3) include both male and female family caregivers.

Data extraction and synthesis
Two independent reviewers extracted the data and assessed risk of bias using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program checklist and National Institutes of Health Quality Assessment Tool for Observational Cohort and Cross-sectional Studies. Data were synthesized using a narrative synthesis approach.

Results
A total of 22 studies were included. Caregiving burden was measured using various methods. A majority of studies reported higher burden among females. All studies that did not report a sex and gender difference in caregiving burden accounted for confounders. Findings on sex and gender differences on physical and mental health conditions were inconsistent with most studies failing to account for confounders in their analyses.

Conclusions
Current evidence on sex and gender differences in caregiving burden, mental and physical health is limited. Findings suggest presence of sex and gender differences in caregiving burden. Given the variety of mental and physical health constructs that were examined, further research is required to substantiate the evidence.

Chen Xiong, Melissa Biscardi, Arlene Astell, Emily Nalder, Jill I. Cameron, Alex Mihailidis, Angela Colantonio
PLOS ONE, April 20, 2020
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