Introduction: Family caregivers are socially isolated and burdened as they care for their loved one, often for many years. Internet support groups can address some of the barriers related to the social isolation, self-efficacy, and burden experienced during caregiving by connecting individuals with similar problems to one another. The purpose of the meta-analysis was to analyze the effect of Internet-based group support interventions on social support, self-efficacy, and burden. Methods: A two-step search process was used to identify peer reviewed evidence to answer the research question. Multiple databases, including MEDLINE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and several others, were searched to identify systematic reviews from which to identify the final articles for data extraction. Results: Seven systematic reviews identified 10 studies to answer the research question. A statistically significant effect was found from the interventions targeting social support and self-efficacy. We were unable to assess the effect of these interventions on caregiver burden due to the variance in measurement constructs. Conclusions: While it has been found that Internet group support interventions have a positive effect on social support and self-efficacy, the size and quality of studies are moderate, and thus, large-scale randomized controlled trials are needed for a higher level of evidence.
- social support
- support groups