Burden and Mental Health Among Caregivers of Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injury/Polytrauma


This paper explores the effect on caregivers of caring for veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI)/polytrauma. This research asserts that it is important to identify factors associated with care-giving that can help or harm caregivers’ health, in order to implement appropriate and effective interventions to support caregivers in their role.


Veterans who survive multiple traumatic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI), must often rely on family caregivers for ongoing care and support with reintegration. Understanding factors associated with caregiving that help or harm caregivers' health is critical for identifying appropriate and effective interventions that support caregiver health and promote the provision of quality care to veterans. This study utilized cross-sectional data from the Family and Caregiver Experiences Study, a survey of 564 caregivers caring for veterans who served after September 11, 2001, survived TBI/polytrauma during service, and received inpatient rehabilitation care in a Veterans Affairs Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationship between caregiver stress (i.e., veterans' neurobehavioral problems and intensity of care required), and caregiver well-being (i.e., caregiver burden and mental health). Analyses also examined how intrapersonal, family or social, and financial resources mediate and moderate the relationship between caregiver stress and well-being. Results indicate that veterans' neurobehavioral problems and intensity of required care were associated with more caregiver burden, and more burden was associated with poor mental health. Intrapersonal and family or social resources mediated the relationship between veteran functioning and mental health. Family or social resources also moderated the relationship between care intensity and burden. The model explained a moderate amount of variability in burden (59%) and a substantial amount in mental health (75%). We conclude that caregivers of veterans with neurobehavioral problems who require intense care are at risk for burden and poor mental health. Increasing resources to bolster family or social resources may reduce risks (PsycINFO Database Record).

Full Reference

Griffin, J. M., Lee, M. K., Bangerter, L. R., Van Houtven, C. H., Friedemann-Sanchez, G., Phelan, S. M., Carlson, K. F. and Meis, L. A., 2017. Burden and mental health among caregivers of veterans with traumatic brain injury/polytrauma. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(2), pp. 139-148.