Psychology ETDs

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Pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have profound effects on a child,including permanent changes to cognition and personality. Despite the attention that pediatric TBI has received in the broader literature, few studies have explored the residual effect that TBI can have on global family functioning. The present study sought to extend the literature on family functioning following pediatric TBI by investigating the perspectives of multiple family members, including the injured child and the parent. It was hypothesized that all family members would view family functioning as more dysfunctional than a non-clinical sample. Fourteen injured adolescents who experienced a moderate to severe TBI at least six months prior to data collection and their parents were enrolled in the study. Ten adolescent siblings also participated. Parents in the current sample reported clinically significant distress in the area of family roles, which addresses responsibility distribution among family members. Injured adolescents reported lower levels of functioning in the areas of affective involvement, communication, and roles, when compared to non-clinical adolescents. Within sample comparisons revealed that injured adolescents reported more problematic functioning than their parents on five of the seven domains of family functioning. Both parent and adolescent report of poor family functioning was associated with self-reported depressive symptoms. Exploratory analyses investigated the impact of pediatric TBI on the sibling. Overall, results highlight the importance of exploring multiple perspectives of family functioning following pediatric TBI, as each member may be differentially impacted by pediatric TBI.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Yeo, Ronald

Second Committee Member

Delaney, Harold




traumatic brain injury, family functioning

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