HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Service needs and health outcomes among caregivers of service members and veterans following TBI

February, 2019
Article:

This paper examines caregiver needs across health and social care services, and the impact of unmet needs on caregiver health and appraisal outcomes.

Abstract

Purpose/Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the (a) prevalence of unmet caregiver needs across eight health care and social service needs and the (b) impact of unmet needs on caregiver health and appraisal outcomes. Research Method/Design: Participants were 264 caregivers (95.8% female; 85.2% spouse/partner) providing help to service members and veterans who sustained a mild to severe or penetrating traumatic brain injury. Caregivers were recruited from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Maryland) and via community outreach to participate in the congressionally mandated 15-year Longitudinal Traumatic Brain Injury Study (Sec721 NDAA FY2007) supported by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Caregivers completed the Caregiver Appraisal Scale, SF-36v2 Health Survey, and caregiver questionnaire. Participants were divided into 3 health care and social service needs groups: no unmet needs, 1–3 unmet needs, and 4–8 unmet needs. Results: Six of the 8 needs were each endorsed by a majority of caregivers (59.1%–70.1%). Each need was reported as unmet by 29.5% to 52.7% of caregivers. A significant linear relation was found between number of needs and poorer outcomes (i.e., 4–8 needs < 1–3 needs < 0 needs). The cumulative number of unmet needs was significantly related to worse outcomes in most areas, while most individual needs were not significantly related to outcomes. One exception was the caregiver’s unmet need for medical health, which was significantly related to increased bodily pain. Conclusions/Implications: Continued support from programs and expansion in the breadth and scope of health care and social services for caregivers is required, including identifying the issues that hinder caregivers accessing the services they need.

Full Reference

Brickell, T. A., Lippa, S. M., French, L. M., Gartner, R. L., Driscoll, A. E., Wright, M. M. and Lange, R. T., 2019. Service needs and health outcomes among caregivers of service members and veterans following TBI. Rehabilitation Psychology, 64(1), pp. 72-86. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rep0000249.

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