This systematic literature review describes how adult traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients’ family members received support. The research question was “What in healthcare constitutes support for a TBI patient’s family members?” The data for this review were based on 22 empirical studies published in scientific journals in 2004–2010, which were found in the Cinahl, PsychINFO, and ISI Web of Knowledge databases. The review includes the study design, sample, method, and main results. The data were analyzed using content analysis. Social support for brain injury patients’ family members was divided into 3 main categories: informational, emotional, and practical support. The subcategories of informational support were information about the patient’s symptoms, information about care, quality of information, and information about the prognosis. The subcategories of emotional support were taking emotions into account, caring, listening, and respecting. The subcategories of practical support were support in decision making, promoting the welfare of the family, encouraging family members to participate in care, cooperation with the family members, and counseling services. The results are available for nurses in practical work. The review offers nurses a structure for supporting TBI patients’ families, and according to this review, supporting TBI patients’ families appears to have many dimensions. The results suggest that nurses should be informed that it is important for family members to know the facts about TBI to understand the condition and to receive practical advice on how to help their significant other with TBI with daily activities. In addition, the results provide a basis for further research and development of interventions that support brain injury patients and their family members.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Kirsi Coco, MNSc, at email@example.com. She is a doctoral student at the Department of Nursing Science, University of Eastern Finland-Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.
Kerttu Tossavainen, PhD RN, is a professor at the Department of Nursing Science, University of Eastern Finland-Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.
Juha Erik Jääskeläinen, MD PhD, is a professor and Chairman of the Neurosurgery Department of NeuroCenter, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland.
Hannele Turunen, PhD RN, is a professor and the Head of the Department of Nursing Science, University of Eastern Finland-Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.