Non-pharmacological interventions engaging organ transplant caregivers: A systematic review

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Clinical transplantation


INTRODUCTION: Lay-caregivers in organ transplantation (to candidates, recipients, and donors) are essential to pre- and postoperative care, but report significant caregiving-related stressors. This review aims to summarize studies testing nonpharmacological interventions aimed at improving organ transplant caregiver-reported outcomes.

METHODS: In accordance with PRISMA, we conducted a systematic review (searched PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central, PsycInfo, and CINAHL, no start-date restriction through 7/1/2021). Quality of comparative studies assessed by ROBS-2 or ROBINS.

RESULTS: Twelve studies met inclusion. Study designs, interventions, and outcomes varied. Sample sizes were small across caregivers to adults (nine studies, five with caregiver samples ns≤50) and pediatric patients (three studies, caregiver samples ns≤16). Study designs included seven single-arm interventions, two prepost with comparison cohorts, and three randomized-controlled trials. Eight studies included transplant-specific education as the intervention, an interventional component, or as the comparison group. Outcomes included transplant specific knowledge, mental health, and intervention acceptability. Of the nine prepost caregiver assessments and/or comparison groups, four studies demonstrated no statistically significant intervention effects.

CONCLUSION: Few interventions addressing the needs of organ transplant caregivers have been empirically evaluated. Existing interventions were well-received by caregivers. Given complexities of care in transplantation, research is needed evaluating interventions using rigorous trial methodology with adequate samples.

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ePub ahead of print

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