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J Head Trauma Rehabil. 1998 Dec;13(6):57-71.

The effect of parental traumatic brain injury on parenting and child behavior.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.



To examine (1) the parenting skills of individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and their spouses, (2) the effects of parental TBI on children, and (3) the effects of parental TBI on levels of depression for all family members.


Independent two-tailed t tests and Pearson chi-square analyses were utilized to compare parents with TBI versus parents without TBI, spouses of parents with TBI versus spouses of parents without TBI, and children of parents with TBI versus children of parents without TBI.


Urban, suburban, and rural New York State.


32 families participated in the study; in 16 families one parent had a TBI and in the remaining 16 families, no parent had a TBI. Eighteen children from families with parental TBI and 26 children from families without TBI were interviewed. On average, parents with TBI were 9 years post-onset of injury at the time of interview.


The parents' battery explored parents' perspectives of their own parenting skills (Parent Behavior Form, Parent Practices Questionnaire, Parenting Dimensions Inventory), their mood (Beck Depression Inventory), and the behaviors of their children (Children's Problem Checklist, Behavior Rating Profile). The child's battery tapped the children's perspective of their own behaviors (Behavior Rating Profile), their mood (Children's Depression Inventory), and the parental abilities of both parents (Parent Behavior Form, Parent Practices Questionnaire).


Although parents with TBI and their spouses were similar to their comparison group in many parenting skills, parents with TBI reported less goal setting, less encouragement of skill development, less emphasis on obedience to rules and orderliness, less promotion of work values, less nurturing, and lower levels of active involvement with their children. Spouses of individuals with TBI, compared to their counterparts, reported less feelings of warmth, love, and acceptance toward their children. Children from families in which a parent had a TBI perceived both parents as more lax in their discipline, with the parent without TBI perceived as less actively involved in parenting roles. No differences in the frequency of behavioral problems were found between children of parents with TBI and children of parents without TBI. Parents with TBI and their children experienced more symptoms of depression relative to their respective comparison groups.


Parental TBI has select consequences for all family members: individuals with TBI, their spouses, and their children. Prospective clinical evaluations of family members and proactive interventions to maximize family adjustment and minimize affective distress are indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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