Objective: To examine self-awareness 5 years or more after traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its relation to outcomes.
Participants: Sixty-two adults with moderate to severe TBI and significant other (SO) informants (family or close friend).
Setting: Regional veterans medical center.
Main Measures: TBI Follow-up Interview, Community Integration Questionnaire, Satisfaction with Life Scale, and Caregiver Burden Inventory.
Design: Five to 16 years after acute inpatient rehabilitation, separate staff contacted and interviewed subjects and SOs. Subject awareness was defined as inverse subject-SO discrepancy scores.
Results: Subjects significantly underreported neurologic symptoms and overreported their work and home functioning; their self-ratings of emotional distress and social functioning did not differ from SO ratings. Employment was associated with greater self-awareness of cognitive deficits, even after controlling for injury severity. Subjects' life-satisfaction was associated with better self-reported neurologic functioning, which frequently did not agree with SO ratings. Caregiver burden was worse as SOs perceived subjects as having worse symptoms and poorer work and social integration.
Conclusions: Impaired self-awareness remains evident more than 5 years after TBI. People with TBI are more likely to gain employment when they are aware of their cognitive deficits and abilities. However, subjective quality of life, for subjects and SOs, was related to their own perception of the TBI outcomes.