The Relationship between Training and Mental Health among Caregivers of Individuals with Polytrauma.


This was a hypothesis-generating exploration of relationships between caregiver training during TBI/polytrauma rehabilitation and caregiver mental health. In this cross-sectional study, 507 informal caregivers to US service members with TBI who received inpatient rehabilitation care in a Veterans Affairs' Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center from 2001 to 2009 completed a retrospective, self-report survey. Embedded in the survey were measures of caregiver mental health, including the National Institutes of Health's Patient Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Anxiety and Depression Short Forms, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale, and the Zarit Burden Short Form. Though no groups endorsed clinical levels, mental health symptoms varied by caregiver training category (Trained, Not Trained, and Did Not Need Training). Caregivers who did not receive training on how to navigate healthcare systems endorsed higher depression and burden and lower self-esteem than those who did. Caregivers who did not receive training in supporting their care recipients' emotions endorsed higher anxiety, depression, and burden and lower self-esteem than those who did. Analyses also suggested a different association between training and mental health based on caregivers' relationship to the care recipient and the intensity of care recipient needs. Potential hypotheses for testing in future studies raised by these findings are discussed.





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Publication Info

Stevens, Lillian Flores, Treven C Pickett, Kathryn P Wilder Schaaf, Brent C Taylor, Amy Gravely, Courtney Harold Van Houtven, Greta Friedemann-Sánchez, Joan M Griffin, et al. (2015). The Relationship between Training and Mental Health among Caregivers of Individuals with Polytrauma. Behavioural neurology, 2015. p. 185941. 10.1155/2015/185941 Retrieved from

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Van Houtven

Courtney Harold Van Houtven

Professor in Population Health Sciences

Dr. Courtney Van Houtven is a Professor in The Department of Population Health Science, Duke University School of Medicine and Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. She is also a Research Career Scientist in The Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT), Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Dr. Van Houtven’s aging and economics research interests encompass long-term care financing, intra-household decision-making, unpaid family and friend care, and home- and community-based services. She examines how family caregiving affects health care utilization, expenditures, health and work outcomes of care recipients and caregivers. She is also interested in understanding how best to support family caregivers to optimize caregiver and care recipient outcomes.

Dr. Van Houtven  is co-PI on the QUERI Program Project, “Optimizing Function and Independence”, in which her caregiver skills training program developed as an RCT in VA, now called Caregivers FIRST, has been implemented at 125 VA sites nationally. The team will evaluate how intensification of an implementation strategy changes adoption. She directs the VA-CARES Evaluation Center, which evaluates the VA’s Caregiver Support Program. She leads a mixed methods R01 study as PI from the National Institute on Aging that will assess the value of "home time" for persons living with dementia and their caregivers (RF1 AG072364).

Areas of expertise: Health Services Research and Health Economics

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