National Rehabilitation Hospital

Differences in Marital Satisfaction, Coping and Social Supports after a Traumatic Brain Injury

Walking on Eggshells: The Impact of Traumatic Brain Injury on Marital and Relationship Satisfaction

Anne-Marie Casey**, Patricia Byrne**, Áine Carroll*, Simone Carton**, Maeve Nolan** and Jean Quigley***

* Medical Board, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

** Psychology Department, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin*** School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin

Objective: Adverse cognitive, emotional and behavioural sequelae of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are commonly noted by family members. These sequelae can adversely impact on marital and family relationships. The aim of this study is to examine marital and relationship satisfaction following a TBI amongst patients and partners. Design: A questionnaire based postal survey was used to investigate relationship and marital satisfaction. Participants: Thirty four participants (14 male; 20 female), ranging in age from 25-68 years ( = 44 years, SD 11 years), took part in this study. Sixteen had sustained a TBI and eighteen were partners of patients with TBI. Participants with TBI who were inpatients at the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) and their partners were invited to participate in the study. Outcome Measures: The Marital Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSI-R) was used to examine marital and relationship satisfaction. Results: Both patients and partners reported relationship difficulties following brain injury (z = -3.078, p < .05 patients; z = 2.699, p < .05 partners). Conclusion: This study highlights the significant impact of TBI on relationships for both the TBI survivor and their partners. Implications for interventions in neuropsychological rehabilitation are discussed.

Keywords: traumatic brain injury; relationships; marriage; rehabilitation

Final Report presented to the NRH Ethics Committee – July 2010