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Severity of military traumatic brain injury influences caregiver health-related quality of life

Purpose/objective: To examine the influence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) severity on the health-related quality of life of caregivers providing care to service members/veterans (SMV) following a TBI. Research Method/Design: Thirty caregivers (90.0% female; 70.0% spouse; age: M = 39.5 years, SD = 10.7) of SMVs who sustained a mild, moderate, severe, or penetrating TBI were recruited from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and via community outreach to participate in one of six focus groups. Caregivers were classified into 3 TBI severity/caregiver groups: (a) moderate/severe/penetrating TBI caregiver group (n = 11); (b) mild TBI caregiver group (n = 10); and (c) equivocal TBI caregiver group (n = 9). Thematic analysis using a constant comparative approach was conducted with qualitative analysis software to identify common themes across the 3 severity/caregiver groups.; Results: Eleven themes emerged: no time for self/needs last (83.3%), poor physical health (80.0%), increased stress/anxiety (76.7%), social isolation/loneliness (66.7%), lack of access to services (50.0%), impact on family life (46.7%), sleep issues (46.7%), finances/employment (36.7%), depression (30.0%), exhaustion (30.0%), and anger (16.7%). Exploratory pairwise comparisons revealed a higher proportion of the moderate/severe/penetrating TBI group endorsed 7 of the 11 themes (no time for self/needs last, increased stress/anxiety, impact on family life, sleep issues, finances/employment, exhaustion, anger, and increased stress/anxiety) compared with the other 2 groups.; Conclusions/implications: It is important that caregivers of SMVs receive long-term support in their caregiving and parenting roles. Further work is required to understand the challenges caregivers experience in accessing services they need and how to effectively meet their needs across the care continuum.

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
American Psychological Association
Publication Year
Journal Titles
Rehabilitation Psychology
Volume Number
Online early view