Quality of Life Research

, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 2007–2017 | Cite as

A systematic review of Indigenous caregiver functioning and interventions

  • Lesli Hokanson
  • Michael Gerhardt Quinn
  • Natalie Schüz
  • Kristy de Salas
  • Jenn Scott



There is a global increase in chronic, degenerative illnesses that require long-term intervention and support as a result of the aging population. The majority of support needs are met by informal family caregivers. While there have been three decades of research focusing on caregivers in general, the extent to which research has focused on Indigenous caregivers is unclear. Worldwide, Indigenous peoples face severe economic and health disadvantages that may make them even more vulnerable to the negative aspects of informal caregiving. The current systematic review aimed to synthesize the extant literature on Indigenous caregiver functioning and the interventions that are efficacious in alleviating Indigenous caregiver distress.


Systematic review Inclusion criteria were peer-reviewed quantitative studies examining Indigenous caregiver functioning or evaluating Indigenous caregiver interventions.


1172 unique records were located in the final search undertaken; only 7 articles, representing 6 unique studies, met the full inclusion criteria. Most studies contained numerous methodological weaknesses that compromised the reliability and validity of findings. Available studies suggest poor health and high burden among Indigenous relative to non-Indigenous caregivers. However, high levels of positive aspects of caregiving were reported in one study. A single intervention study suggests that poor health outcomes among Indigenous caregivers can be alleviated, though the quality and focus of this study was sub-optimal.


Overall, there is very little quality evidence around Indigenous caregiver functioning. Future research in this area would benefit from greater adherence to the standards of research that contribute to a strong and reliable evidence base.


Caregiving Indigenous Systematic review Family caregivers Coping Psychological functioning 



Funding was provided by Tasmanian Home & Community Care (Grant No. S0017329).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lesli Hokanson
    • 1
  • Michael Gerhardt Quinn
    • 1
  • Natalie Schüz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kristy de Salas
    • 1
  • Jenn Scott
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.German Pension Insurance Oldenburg-BremenBremenGermany

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