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A mixed methods inquiry of caregivers of U.S. veterans with sustained "invisible" injuries from Iraq/Afghanistan

An exploratory study of caregiver burden associated with family caregivers enrolled in the VA Caregiver Support Program who assist veterans with serious invisible injuries sustained post September 11, 2001. A mixed methods analysis was completed with a retroactive chart review of already collected data (172 participants) in addition to a phenomenological query of 16 participants. Results: T-tests resulted in a significantly higher caregiver burden score with caregivers who had children in the home (M = 6.84; SD = 3.21) versus those who did not (M = 5.57; SD = 2.75), t (160) = −2.36, p =.02. An ANOVA across caregiver role (parent, spouse, significant other and other) and the Zarit Burden Inventory (ZBI) resulted in a significant difference (F [3, 159] = 1.59, p <.01, with spousal caregivers having a significantly higher ZBI score (M = 6.83; SD = 3.10) than parental caregivers (M = 4.46; SD = 2.70). The phenomenological research resulted in 22 major themes (family adjustment, subjective demands, coping techniques, social support, VA/DOD, self-care, intimacy, role strain, financial resources, life course, obligation, rewards, isolation/loss of self, reciprocity, stigma, community resources, spiritual support, tools, hope, uncertainty, guilt, leash syndrome) which supported quantitative findings. Conclusions: Caregivers and their families had a difficult time adjusting post injury. Caregivers relied heavily on their own coping mechanisms to adapt to their new role and did not find social support to be helpful with caregiving. Spousal caregivers and caregivers with children in the home had more difficulty adjusting when compared with parental caregivers. 

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Taylor & Francis
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Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
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