A significant minority of adolescents will have persistent postconcussion symptoms after an injury, potentially having a negative impact on family functioning. However, the reasons for a family's negative impact are not clearly understood. The objective of this study was to determine whether preinjury/demographic factors, injury characteristics, and/or worse postinjury symptoms are associated with higher levels of family stress in youth with refractory postconcussion symptoms.
Pediatric refractory concussion clinic in a tertiary care center.
A total of 121 adolescents (13-18 years old) who were 1 to 12 months postconcussion.
Primary outcome was the mean stress rating on the Family Burden of Injury Interview (FBII), a 27-item questionnaire rating the impact on a family as a result of an injury. Preinjury/demographic and injury details were collected. Youth and their parents also completed measures of postconcussion symptoms, depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems.
Participants had a mean age of 16.0 years (SD = 1.3), of which, 65% identified as female, and were on an average 5.2 months (SD = 2.4) postconcussion. FBII ratings were not significantly correlated with demographics, preinjury functioning, injury severity, duration of persistent postconcussion problems (ie, time since injury), or self-reported postconcussion symptoms. Greater family burden (higher FBII ratings) significantly correlated with worse parent-reported postconcussion symptoms, worse psychological functioning (self-reported depression, parent-reported anxiety, and depression), and worse behavioral functioning (parent-reported conduct problems and peer problems). A multiple linear regression model revealed that parent-perceived postconcussion cognitive symptoms (β = .292, t = 2.56, P = .012) and parent-perceived peer problems (β = .263, t = 2.59, P = .011) were significantly associated with family burden (F8,105 = 6.53; P < .001; R2 = 0.35).
Families of youth with refractory postconcussion symptoms can experience a negative impact. The severity of reported family burden in those with slow recovery from concussion was significantly associated with parents' perception of their child's cognitive symptoms and peer problems. These results could provide support for family-based interventions in this population.