This study examined predictors of family dysfunction and caregiver distress among 60 pairs of persons who sustained a traumatic brain injury and their caregivers.
A cross-sectional design that used hierarchical multiple regression analyses evaluated the relative influences of time since injury, awareness of deficit, and neurobehavioral and neuropsychological functioning of the person with injury, and caregiver perceived social support.
The predictor model accounted for 52% of the variance in family dysfunction and 39% in caregiver psychological distress. Neurobehavioral disturbance in the person with injury was the strongest predictor of caregiver distress. Social support showed a direct and linear relationship to family functioning, and it was the strongest predictor of family functioning. Social support was a powerful moderator of caregiver psychological distress. In the absence of adequate social support, caregiver distress increased with longer time after injury, cognitive dysfunction, and unawareness of deficit in care recipients, whereas these characteristics were not associated with distress among caregivers with adequate social support.
Rehabilitation professionals should stress the importance of caregivers and families of persons with TBI seeking and obtaining adequate social support.