Clin Rehabil 2003 May;17(3):234-48
McKeown LP, Porter-Armstrong AP, Baxter GD.
Rehabilitation Sciences Research Group, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, Northem Ireland, UK.
To appraise recent studies regarding the needs and experiences of caregivers of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The following computerized databases were searched: CINAHL, BIDS IBSS, ASSIA, MEDLINE, PSYCHINFO, British Nursing Index, ISI Web of Science, Zetoc, AMED (1990-April 2002).
The computer-based search was supplemented by manual searches of the reference lists of all retrieved studies and review articles.
Inclusion and exclusion criteria were formulated.
Twenty-four studies from across the world that met the inclusion criteria were reviewed.
The majority of studies were descriptive in nature.
The studies covered a variety of topics, including how carers assist people with MS, the effect of providing care on a carer's physical and psychological well-being, social life, financial situation and overall quality of life, and how carers cope with the stresses of providing care.
Providing care for a person with MS has a major impact on all areas of the caregiver's life.
Perceived social support has been shown to have a beneficial impact on the caregiver.
Limitations in design and variation in methodology of studies limits the generalizability of findings.
There is a need for further research, in particular the development of reliable and valid disease-specific caregiver assessment instruments.