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NeuroRehabilitation. 2007;22(1):19-41.

Family interventions after acquired brain injury and other chronic conditions: a critical appraisal of the quality of the evidence.

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  • 1Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Family caregivers of individuals with acquired brain injury (ABI) and other chronic disabilities typically experience long-term adjustment difficulties within the entire family system. Interventions to assist parents and spouses are rare, and for siblings and offspring even more so. Among the few existing interventions, only a very small number have been evaluated in any scientifically sound manner for effectiveness in alleviating stress and burden. A highly targeted literature search of family caregiver intervention studies identified 31 articles, only four of which were in brain injury, which met specific inclusion criteria. Randomized controlled trial studies of six types of family caregiver interventions were systematically assessed for their quality of design and evidence of effectiveness. The results revealed a body of literature lacking in methodological rigor. At present there is no strong research evidence supporting any specific intervention method for family caregivers of individuals with ABI or any of the other chronic condition groups surveyed, although an abundance of anecdotal, descriptive, and quasi-experimental support exists in the rehabilitation literature. This conclusion points to the need for launching new pilot studies and rigorous evaluations of caregiver intervention effectiveness, some of which are now emerging or in process in several locations across the United States.

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