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A Family's Affair: Caring for Veterans with Penetrating Traumatic Brain Injury.

Delgado RE, Peacock K, Elizondo B, Wells M, Grafman JH, Pugh MJ. A Family's Affair: Caring for Veterans with Penetrating Traumatic Brain Injury. Military medicine. 2018 Mar 1; 183(suppl_1):379-385.

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Approximately 1.1 million family members are primary caregivers to post 9/11 veterans. These military caregivers assume a role that requires a long-term commitment that may affect their own health status; however, the impact on health among military caregivers is underestimated and underrepresented. As part of a larger retrospective cohort study that aimed to assess the health-related outcomes of post 9/11 veterans with penetrating traumatic brain injury (pTBI), we examined the health impact of caregiving on caregivers. Caregivers (n = 66) of veterans with pTBI completed a survey that captured the veterans' and their own health-related outcomes. Surveys included veteran and caregiver sociodemographics, caregiver role, tasks, burden, and caregiver-reported measures of veterans' health and quality of life. The participants were spouses (58%) and parents (32%) providing full-time assistance for more than 5 yr (74%). In their caregiver role, they provided assistance with activities of daily living and emotional/social support. Forty-eight percent of these caregivers met the definition of experiencing clinically significant burden. Veterans with pTBI had other comorbidities (e.g., depression, cognitive dysfunction, and anger), which were associated with caregiver burden. The findings further confirm the impact of caregiving on health status of caregivers, specifically when assisting veterans with pTBI.

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