HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Burden among caregivers of service members and veterans following traumatic brain injury

Article

This paper explores the health status and perceived burden on health in a sample of caregivers helping service members/veterans following traumatic brain injury.

Abstract

To determine the (a) health status and caregiving appraisal and (b) influence of perceived burden on health and appraisal in a sample of caregivers helping service member/veterans (SMVs) following a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Participants were caregivers (N = 283, female = 96.1%, 86.2% = spouse/partner) of SMVs who sustained a mild-severe or penetrating TBI. Participants completed the Caregiver Appraisal Scale (CAS) and the SF-36v2 Health Survey (SF-36v2). Participants were divided into three burden groups: high, neutral, and low. Almost half the sample (48.8%) reported negative feelings on the CAS Perceived Burden scale. A substantial proportion had lower scores than a normative sample on four SF-36v2 physical health scales (35.1-64.5%) and four mental health scales (70.7-79.8%). A significant main effect was found across caregiver burden groups on three CAS scales (p = 0.010 to p < 0.001), two SF-36v2 component scores (all ps < 0.001), and eight SF-36v2 scales (p = 0.001 to p < 0.001). Caregivers with high perceived burden reported significantly worse scores, except CAS Caregiving Ideology. All CAS and SF-36v2 scales were significant predictors of CAS Perceived Burden scores (all ps< 0.001), with the SF-36v2 Social Functioning scale accounting for the most variance (32.6%). Health care and social services are needed for caregivers who help SMVs to foster resilience, wellness, and growth.

Full Reference

Brickell, T. A., French, L. M., Lippa, S. M. and Lange, R. T., 2018. Burden among caregivers of service members and veterans following traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 32(12), pp. 1541-1548.