Many patients experience physical, behavioural, cognitive and emotional problems following traumatic brain injury (TBI). They may require continuing care for many years, most of which is provided by informal caregivers, such as spouses, parents, or other family members. The caregiving role is associated with a range of adverse effects including anxiety, depression, poor physical health and lowered quality of life. This article explores issues around caregiver stress; highlighting interventions for this group and areas for further research.
Literature exploring the impact of caregiving, its influencing and alleviating factors and interventions for caregivers of people with TBI is discussed, with brief critical analysis of key studies.
Research suggests that caregiver characteristics, coping strategies, their appraisal of the situation and social networks may be associated with the amount of distress experienced. Many caregivers have unmet needs such as respite care and information provision on TBI. Providing information may help to alleviate strain. Community-based family therapies providing education, support and counselling can help to decrease distress and improve aspects of family functioning, although evidence for these is lacking.
There is a need for more well-designed, controlled studies evaluating the impact of interventions to alleviate caregiver strain.
Blake, H. (in press). Caregiver stress in traumatic brain injury. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 15(6), https://doi.org/10.12968/ijtr.2008.15.6.29878