Objective: Previous literature has demonstrated empirical support for a stress process model of caregiving (Chronister & Chan, 2006). This study examined whether a coping–appraisal stress model helps in our understanding of the experience of caregiving for people with an acquired brain injury.
Method: Eighty–one family caregivers of individuals with an acquired brain injury completed this postal questionnaire study. The research used a cross sectional design and self report measurements to investigate the relationships between the variables in the specified model. The roles of demographics, injury related variables, individual differences, coping, satisfaction with social support, caregiver appraisals with respect to wellbeing were examined.
Results: Relationship patterns found were broadly in line with expectations of the model. Multiple regression analyses found that the coping-appraisal model explained 63% and 62% of the variance in general health and quality of life respectively. Mediational analyses identified avoidant coping, satisfaction with social support, perceived burden and caregiver mastery as the core mediators of different relationships between variables in the model.
Conclusion: This study provides additional empirical support for using a stress-appraisal model as a framework in the context of caregivers for individuals with an acquired brain injury. Findings such as the important role of individual differences in the caregiving experience, and the negative relationship between avoidant coping and overall wellbeing provides useful information for clinical practice. Future research on this topic using longitudinal design could address the causal nature of the variables in the model.
Final Report presented to the NRH Ethics Committee – November 2010