Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior
Purpose: We determined burden of caring for patients with post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) following penetrating traumatic brain injury (TBI) and identified factors predicting higher burden.
Method: We assessed 331 caregiver-veteran dyads in Phase 2 (136 PTE, 136 non-PTE, and 59 HC dyads), 133 in Phase 4 (47 PTE, 56 non-PTE, and 30 HC dyads) – 30 years later, and 46 dyads in the follow-up study (18 PTE, 19 non-PTE, and 9 HC). Caregiver’s burden was measured by Zarit Burden Index and a questionnaire. Veterans completed demographic, mental and physical well-being, quality-of-life, and medical-related information. Caregivers provided information about burden and their assessments of cognitive decline and neuropsychiatric status of the veterans.
Results: PTE caregivers perceived significantly more burden than comparison groups at all phases. Bivariate analyses revealed that caregiver distress due to the veteran’s neuropsychiatric state including cognitive decline, apathy, and disinhibition and the veteran’s characteristics including older age at epilepsy onset and role limitation due to physical problems were associated with higher burden. Finally, we revealed disinhibition distress, and role imitation due to physical problems as the predictors in a model of caregiver burden.
Conclusion: Elevated PTE caregiver burden is persistent across the life span suggesting that caregivers could benefit from counseling and targeted psychosocial interventions to reduce their burden.