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Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Evaluating Quality of Life and Social Connectedness in Persons With Acquired Brain Injury
Author Affiliations
  • University of New Hampshire
  • Krempels Center
  • University of New Hampshire
Article Information
Neurologic Conditions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Basic Research
Research Platform   |   August 01, 2016
Evaluating Quality of Life and Social Connectedness in Persons With Acquired Brain Injury
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505090. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-RP301C
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505090. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-RP301C
Abstract

Date Presented 4/9/2016

Findings from this research suggest that a community-based program, heavily influenced by occupational therapy practices, is effective at optimizing quality-of-life satisfaction and facilitating enhanced social connectedness for survivors of brain injury.

Primary Author and Speaker: Barbara Prudhomme White

Additional Authors and Speakers: Barbara Kresge, John Wilcox

Contributing Author: Lisa Couture

PURPOSE: This research studied social network quality, quality of life, and stress perception in adults with acquired brain injury (ABI). Our question focused on comparing data from adults living with ABI who do and do not participate in a community day program, Krempels Center (KC). Our hypothesis was that persons who attended KC would have overall higher quality-of-life perceptions and more supportive social networks.
RATIONALE : Once discharged from rehabilitation services, most survivors of ABI return home to a compromised life, including scattered families, lost jobs and incomes, and severed social connections. An intervention focus with survivors of brain injury is in improving quality of life and social capital after brain injury through community integration and participation. KC is a unique, community-based postrehab program designed to meet the unmet, critical needs of individuals with ABI in partnership with the University of New Hampshire occupational therapy department.
DESIGN: This quantitative descriptive design compares several dependent variables from survey method, between eligible persons who attend KC and a random community sample of individuals who do not.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 82 individuals with ABI living within the NH, MA, and ME area participated in the study. KC members were eligible to participate if they had been attending KC for ≥6 mo (n = 58). The comparison group (n = 24) did not attend any support program.
METHOD: Recruitment for the KC sample was done by signed consent. The community sample was acquired from local state brain injury association support groups and service providers who were given a web link to an online questionnaire to share with eligible participants. Outcome variables asked about perceptions of quality of life, life stress, and social connectedness. The questionnaire included social connectedness questions, a Perceived Stress Scale, and the World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) measure.
ANALYSIS: Analysis of variance comparing outcome data on seven dependent variables between two independent samples was computed using SPSS.
RESULTS: Our hypothesis that KC members would have higher overall quality-of-life ratings and report a greater social connectedness to others was supported by significant findings on four of seven dependent variables. Overall perceived quality of life showed significant differences between the groups, F(1) = 23.67, p ≤ 001. Significant differences were found on several social connectedness variables: (1) support and encouragement, F(1) = 20.30, p ≤ .001; (2) people do things with me, F(1) = 9.31, p ≤ .003; and (3) opportunities to do things I value and like, F(1) = 7.93, p ≤ .006. Two variables about having places to go and enjoy myself approached significance, and no difference was found regarding participants’ perceptions of getting along with other people.
DISCUSSION: Even though evidence exists that describes individuals with ABI as frequently disconnected from others and in need of increased social participation opportunities, there are few research studies available describing effective programs to address these concerns. This study suggests that KC offers a unique program that appears to positively affect quality-of-life perception and social connectedness in persons with ABI.
IMPACT STATEMENT: Findings from this research suggest the importance of community-based programs for survivors of brain injury and highlight occupational therapy’s significant contributions in facilitating participation that can lead to satisfaction with quality of life and social connectedness.