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Brain Inj. 2014;28(11):1389-95. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2014.919538. Epub 2014 Jun 19.

The impact of alexithymia on burnout amongst relatives of people who suffer from traumatic brain injury.

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  • 1Psychology Department, Swansea University , Swansea , UK.



Although previous research has provided some indication of the association of alexithymia and burnout, this is the first study exploring the association of these two variables in a sample of relatives of individuals who have sustained traumatic brain injury (TBI).


To explore the degree to which relatives experience burnout and the extent to which alexithymia acts as a pre-disposing factor, controlling for depression and coping strategies.


Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20, Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services, Estonian COPE Dispositional Inventory and Beck Depression Inventory-II were completed by 60 relatives of patients with TBI drawn from a tertiary head injury clinic population.


Levels of emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment and depression were significantly higher in the sub-group of relatives with alexithymia than in the sub-group of relatives without alexithymia. Difficulty describing feelings and externally oriented thinking style were significant predictors of emotional exhaustion, while difficulty identifying feelings and difficulty describing feelings were important predictors of depersonalization.


Relatives who present with alexithymia need to be identified at an early stage to minimize risks of burnout leading to adverse effects on patient-caregiver relationships.


Alexithymia; caregiver burden; emotional burnout

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