The purpose of this study was to develop a conceptual framework that captures aspects of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) for caregivers of individuals with military-related traumatic brain injury (TBI). We analyzed qualitative data from nine focus groups composed of caregivers of wounded warriors with a medically documented TBI. Focus group participants were recruited through hospital-based and/or community outreach efforts at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the University of Michigan, and Hearts of Valor support groups (Tennessee and Washington). Participants were the caregivers (n = 45) of wounded warriors who had sustained a mild, moderate, severe, or penetrating TBI. Qualitative frequency analysis indicated that caregivers most frequently discussed social health (44% of comments), followed by emotional (40%) and physical health (12%). Areas of discussion that were specific to this population included anger regarding barriers to health services (for caregivers and servicemembers), emotional suppression (putting on a brave face for others even when things are not going well), and hypervigilance (controlling one's behavior/environment to prevent upsetting the servicemember). Caring for wounded warriors with TBI is a complex experience that positively and negatively affects HRQOL. While some aspects of HRQOL can be evaluated with existing measures, evaluation tools for other important components do not exist. The development of military-specific measures would help facilitate better care for these individuals.
Citation: Carlozzi NE, Brickell TA, French LM, Sander A, Kratz AL, Tulsky DS, Chiaravalloti ND, Hahn EA, Kallen M, Austin AM, Miner JA, Lange RT. Caring for our wounded warriors: A qualitative examination of health-related quality of life in caregivers of individuals with military-related traumatic brain injury. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2016;53(6):669-680.