OBJECTIVES: This study examined the long-term impact of a psychotherapeutic cognitive-behavioral program with two intervention formats (traditional weekly sessions (TWS) and minimal therapist contact (MTC)) in caregivers who suffered from emotional problems due to caring for elderly dependent relatives. METHOD: The 86 participants, who lived with the older persons at home, were randomized into one of the two intervention formats. The individual treatment program was carried out during an 8-week interval. Measures of anxiety, depression, burden, coping, social support, and self-esteem were analyzed at pre- and post-treatment, and at 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups. RESULTS: Significant effects were found in the expected direction in most of the measures analyzed. The participants in the intervention reduced significantly their levels of anxiety, depression, and burden, and they improved the levels of problem-focused coping, social support, and self-esteem. The two intervention formats had different evolutions, with better effects in the TWS format, especially at the first post-test measurements, but the differences tended to decrease over time. CONCLUSION: These data suggest that individual psychotherapeutic interventions with caregivers are efficient to reduce their emotional problems, and that this effect is mediated by improvement both in their appraisal of the situation and in their personal resources.
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