Preinjury emotional and family functioning in caregivers of persons with traumatic brain injury

Angelle M. Sander, Mark Sherer, James F. Malec, Walter M. High, Risa Nakase Thompson, Anne M. Moessner, Jennifer Josey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: To characterize the preinjury family functioning, emotional distress, and social support of caregivers of persons with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Design: Inception cohort. Setting: Three Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems centers' inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Participants: One hundred ninety-one caregivers, primarily white and female, of persons with TBI. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: The Brief Symptom Inventory, Family Assessment Device, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, and history of medical and psychiatric illness. Results: Thirty-seven percent of caregivers indicated symptoms of emotional distress consistent with psychiatric diagnoses for the month before injury, whereas 27% reported a history of psychiatric or psychologic treatment at some point in the past. Between 25% and 33% of caregivers reported unhealthy family functioning in 1 or more areas for the month before injury. Persons with an annual income less than $10,000 reported less healthy preinjury family functioning. Caregivers reported good satisfaction with preinjury social support, and very few caregivers reported a history of substance abuse. Conclusion: A substantial proportion of caregivers reported emotional distress and/or unhealthy family functioning before injury. Such difficulties may make them more vulnerable to the stress associated with injury and result in greater coping difficulties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-203
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003


  • Brain injuries
  • Caregivers
  • Family
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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