Befriending carers of people with dementia: randomised controlled trial

Georgina Charlesworth* (Corresponding Author), Lee Shepstone, Edward Wilson, Shirley Reynolds, Miranda Mugford, David Price, Ian Harvey, Fiona Poland

*Corresponding author for this work

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55 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of a voluntary sector based befriending scheme in improving psychological wellbeing and quality of life for family carers of people with dementia.

Design: Single blind randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Community settings in East Anglia and London.

Participants: 236 family carers of people with primary progressive dementia.

Intervention: Contact with a befriender facilitator and offer of match with a trained lay volunteer befriender compared with no befriender facilitator contact; all participants continued to receive “usual care.”

Main outcome measures: Carers’ mood (hospital anxiety and depression scale—depression) and health related quality of life (EuroQoL) at 15 months post-randomisation.

Results: The intention to treat analysis showed no benefit for the intervention “access to a befriender facilitator” on the primary outcome measure or on any of the secondary outcome measures.

Conclusions: In common with many carers’ services, befriending schemes are not taken up by all carers, and providing access to a befriending scheme is not effective in improving wellbeing.

Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN08130075.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1295
Number of pages6
JournalThe BMJ
Issue number7656
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

Bibliographical note

We thank Norwich and Norfolk Voluntary Services, Age Concern Suffolk, and Age Concern Havering for hosting the befriending schemes and all the participating carers for their time and support. We also thank Tom Arie for the initial suggestion of evaluating voluntary sector support for carers.

Funding: The BECCA trial was commissioned by the NHS R&D Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme (project no 99/34/07) after a call for primary research into “support for carers” and the associated peer review process. Volunteers’ out of pocket expenses were provided by Norfolk and Suffolk Social Services and the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Branch of the Alzheimer’s Society. GC’s time was funded through a Department of Health ad hoc grant to North East London Mental Health Trust. The authors’ work is independent of the funders. Views and opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of the Department of Health.


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