Objective: To examine the differential effect of neurobehavioral impairments (cognitive, behavioral, and social) on family functioning, family roles, and psychological distress in male versus female caregivers of relatives with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Design: Structural equation modeling with multigroup analysis conducted in a cross-sectional sample to test an established theoretical model.
Participants: An aggregated sample of 122 caregivers (46 male, 76 female) of people with severe TBI. The sample comprised 64 spouses and 58 parents (29 parental couples) of 93 persons with TBI.
Measures: Neurobehavioral Problem Checklist; Family Assessment Device; and Brief Symptom Inventory.
Results: Structural equation modeling showed that the proposed model had acceptable fit indices for the combined sample. Multigroup analysis indicated that both male and female caregivers (i) responded similarly to the neurobehavioral impairments experienced by the injured relative and (ii) reported behavior having a direct effect on family functioning, which, in turn, increased psychological distress. However, the effect of disrupted family functioning was more influential on the level of distress in male caregivers than in female caregivers.
Conclusion: Evidence was found for gender-specific pathways underlying the psychological distress of male versus female caregivers. Such findings can assist in tailoring family support strategies so that they cater for caregivers of both genders.