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Therapy Online: A Web-Based Video Support Group for Family Caregivers of Survivors With Traumatic Brain Injury

Damianakis, Thecla PhD; Tough, Alicia MScOT, OT Reg (Ont); Marziali, Elsa PhD; Dawson, Deirdre R. PhD, OT Reg (Ont)

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: July/August 2016 - Volume 31 - Issue 4 - p E12–E20
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000178
Original Articles

Objective: This innovative descriptive study explores the benefits of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caregiver support group intervention provided using videoconferencing within a password protected Web-based platform.

Methods: Ten caregivers of family members with TBI were registered to a password-protected Web site (Caring for Others) that provided information about caring for a person with TBI and access to a videoconferencing support group intervention program. Where needed, caregivers were provided with computer equipment, Internet access, and training to negotiate the Web site links. Two groups of 5 caregivers of survivors of TBI participated (average age of survivor—20 years, average time since injury—4.6 years) and met online with a trained clinician weekly for 10 sessions. Using directed content analysis, transcripts of each session were coded with NVivo software.

Results: The content analysis reported group process themes, therapeutic interventions used, caregiver outcomes, and the challenges for clinicians delivering a therapeutic intervention online.

Conclusions: Traumatic brain injury caregivers shared similar concerns and problem-solving strategies for managing caregiving tasks. Overall, participants found the sessions helpful for managing the emotional impact of caring for a family member with TBI.

School of Social Work, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Dr Damianakis); Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest, Toronto, Canada (Drs Damianakis and Dawson); Centre for Rehabilitation and Health, Gestalt Institute of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Ms Tough); and Faculty of Medicine and Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (Dr Marziali), Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, (Dr Dawson) and Rehabilitation Sciences Institute (Dr Dawson), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Corresponding Author: Deirdre R. Dawson, PhD, OT Reg (Ont), Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, Ste 160-500 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada (

Dr Marziali received a grant from Bell Laboratories at the University of Toronto. Dr Dawson received a grant from the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation in collaboration with the Quebec Rehabilitation Research Network (ONF-REPAR). Ms Tough was a student in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto while this research was being carried out.

The authors thank Andrew Ryu and Kimberly Menzes for their help with data transcriptions, the Social Work Therapists, Marla Feldman, and the family caregivers for their thoughtful participation in this project.

The authors report no conflicts of interests.

Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.