Relationship of preinjury caregiver and family functioning to community integration in adults with traumatic brain injury.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relationship of preinjury caregiver and family functioning to community integration outcomes in persons with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

DESIGN: Inception cohort.

SETTING: Three TBI Model Systems inpatient rehabilitation facilities.

PARTICIPANTS: Persons with TBI (N=141) and their caregivers admitted to inpatient rehabilitation and followed up at 1 to 2 years after injury.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Community Integration Questionnaire and the Social and Occupation scales of the Craig Handicap Assessment and Reporting Technique.

RESULTS: There were significant interactions of several preinjury caregiver and family variables with injury severity. For persons with complicated mild/moderate injury, better family functioning was associated with greater home integration, and less caregiver distress was associated with better social integration. For persons with severe injuries, greater caregiver perceived social support was associated with better outcomes in productivity and social integration.

CONCLUSIONS: Preinjury caregiver and family characteristics interact with injury severity to affect outcomes in persons with injury. Research on outcomes should include measures of caregiver and family functioning. Early interventions targeted toward decreasing caregiver distress, increasing support, and improving family functioning may have a positive impact on later outcomes.