DOI: 10.1002/smi.3303 ISSN:

A systematic review and meta‐analysis of the association between anxiety symptoms and coping in family carers of dependent people aged 18 and over

Juan Carlos Muñoz‐Cruz, Catalina López‐Martínez, Vasiliki Orgeta, Rafael Del‐Pino‐Casado
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • General Medicine


Anxiety symptoms are prevalent in family carers of dependent people. Despite accumulating evidence in the area, there are still inconsistent findings on the association between carer anxiety symptoms and coping strategies. The aim of our study was to systematically analyse the relationship between anxiety symptoms and coping strategies in carers of dependent adults aged 18 years and older, and examine possible sources of heterogeneity in the results. The study design was a systematic review and meta‐analysis. We searched several international databases (Pubmed, CINAHL, PsycINFO and LILACS) from June 2022 up to February 2023. We followed the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta‐analyses statement and performed several subgroup analyses to examine whether study design, cause of dependency and whether or not controlling for various biases influenced results. Forty‐one studies were included in the review. We found significant associations between greater use of dysfunctional coping and higher anxiety symptoms. Greater use of problem‐focused coping was associated with lower anxiety symptoms in carers of frail older people, but higher anxiety in carers of people surviving cancer. Emotion‐focused coping and some of its individual strategies, such as acceptance and positive reappraisal, in probabilistic samples, were associated with lower anxiety symptoms across all groups. Most of the studies included in this review were cross‐sectional. Evidence overall indicates that only specific dimensions and strategies of coping are significantly associated with anxiety symptoms in family carers. These findings should be considered when developing future interventions supporting carers.

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