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Volume 46 Number 6, 2009
   Pages 879 — 892

Families of patients with polytrauma: Understanding the evidence and charting a new research agenda

Joan M. Griffin, PhD;1-2* Greta Friedemann-Sánchez, PhD;3 Carmen Hall, PhD, RN;1 Sean Phelan, MPH;4 Michelle van Ryn, PhD, MPH5

1Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Services Research Center of Excellence, Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN; 2Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN; 3Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; 4Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, MN; 5Department of Medicine, Division of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN

Abstract — Although research shows that caring for a family member with chronic disease or disability can cause significant distress for caregivers, it also shows that families that function well and adequately support patients can improve the quality of life and health outcomes for their ill or disabled family member. Currently, little knowledge exists about how families function and cope after a loved one has sustained polytrauma, the multiple traumatic injuries that often include traumatic brain injury (TBI). We summarize the polytrauma and TBI research about family needs during rehabilitation and recovery, describe current efforts to improve family-centered care, and detail approaches for understanding family resilience and the long-term consequences of injuries on families. We conclude with recommendations for future research in inpatient and outpatient settings where evidence has been limited for families of patients with TBI and is nonexistent for families of patients with polytrauma. Understanding many of these issues will help to better inform families of policies for benefits and resources and help researchers and clinicians plan for appropriate interventions.

Key words: caregiving, families, Family Care Map, information needs, polytrauma, rapid assessment process, recovery, rehabilitation, resilience, stress, traumatic brain injury.

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