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Publication Date

1-25-2016

Keywords

traumatic brain injury, veterans, families, caregiving, measurement, patient-centered outcomes

Abstract

Purpose

This study aimed to identify the sequelae of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that are most troubling to veterans with TBI and their families and identify veteran-family differences in content and ranking. Instead of standardized measures of symptom frequency or severity, which may be insensitive to change or intervention effects, we used a target outcome measure for veterans with TBI and their key family members, which elicited open-ended reports concerning the three most serious TBI-related problems. This was followed by Likert-scaled ratings of difficulty in managing the problem.

Methods

In this cross-sectional study, interviews were conducted in veterans’ homes. Participants included 83 veterans with TBI diagnosed at a Veterans Affairs medical rehabilitation service and a key family member of each veteran. We utilized open-ended questions to determine the problems caused by TBI within the last month. Sociodemographic characteristics of veterans and family members, and veterans’ military and medical characteristics were collected. A coding scheme was developed to categorize open-ended responses.

Results

Families identified nearly twice as many categories of problems as did veterans, and veterans and families ranked problem categories very differently. Veterans ranked cognitive and physical problems worst; families ranked emotional and interpersonal problems worst.

Conclusions

Easily administered open-ended questions about the most troubling TBI-related problems yield novel insights and reveal important veteran-family discrepancies.

Erratum

The initial publication of this article included a bar graph with an incorrectly scaled axis (Figure 2; p. 35). The PDF currently available for download was last updated on July 18, 2016, with a revised Figure 2 that accurately reflects the corresponding data detailed in the Results section.

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