The caregiving phenomenon and caregiver participation in dementia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Background: Dementia presents barriers to the collaboration between individuals and the healthcare system. Caregivers perform multiple functions helping patients with basic and instrumental activities but also communicating and mediating the dyads’ needs within the broader social group. Interventions focusing on caregivers show that caregiver burden can be reduced, improving patient outcomes in a cost-effective way, but the generalisation of these findings is limited by several factors such as low participation rates of caregivers in studies. There is a global push to increase patient participation in health care, but this can be difficult for patients with dementia. Caregiver participation has arisen as a substitute, but there is a lack of standardised definitions, goals and outcome measurement tools for this participation. Methods: In 2015, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions commissioned a study on possibilities of increasing caregiver participation within the Swedish Dementia Registry (SveDem). This discussion paper updates and adapts that report, aiming to broadly summarise the caregiving phenomenon in order to provide a backdrop for clinicians seeking to understand the legal, ethical and practical considerations of caregiver participation in dementia. Relevant literature on caregiver participation is presented, and its definition, extent and practical implementation are discussed. Discussion: The Swedish legal framework compels care providers to facilitate patient and caregiver participation in dementia and provides support to caregivers through the local level of government, but further work is needed to clarify and define the extension and form that this participation must take in clinical practice. Advanced directives are one step in extending patient participation to the period of advanced dementia. Conclusion: Little research exists on caregiver participation. There is a need to develop a framework for caregiver and patient participation to determine the extent, type and form that such participation should take in health care, research and quality initiatives pertaining to persons with dementia.


  • Sara Garcia-Ptacek
  • Beth Dahlrup
  • Ann Katrin Edlund
  • Helle Wijk
  • Maria Eriksdotter
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Södersjukhuset
  • Karolinska University Hospital
  • Sahlgrenska University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


  • caregiver, dementia, healthcare organisation, informal care, participation, patient rights, social care
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2018 Nov 29
Publication categoryResearch