Introduction Informal carers play a key supportive role for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The care they provide also plays a vital role in relieving pressure on health and social services. However, caring can have a considerable impact on health and wellbeing and carers may have unidentified support needs that could be a target for intervention. Literature on the support needs of these carers has not been fully synthesized, and our knowledge of the comprehensiveness of the Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) for these carers is limited.
Methods English language studies published between 1997–2017 were identified against predetermined inclusion/exclusion criteria through searches of MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, CDSR, ASSIA, PsycINFO and Scopus. Further studies were identified through searching reference lists and citations of included papers. Papers were critically appraised and data extracted and synthesised by two reviewers. Identified needs were mapped to CSNAT items.
Results 24 studies were included. Results suggest that carers have support needs in a range of domains including physical, social, psychological and spiritual. Many of these needs are unmet. Particular areas of concern relate to: prolonged social isolation, accessing services, emotional support and information needs.
Findings also suggest additional CSNAT items may be required in order to encompass the full range of needs of this group, particularly relating to difficulties within patient-carer relationships and carer-clinician relationships.
Conclusion Based on this review, there is evidence to suggest that COPD carers would benefit from identification and response to their support needs by healthcare professionals but to enable this the CSNAT requires additional items. Future planned work will develop these items with COPD carers.
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