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The Role of Executive Functioning and Coping in the Traumatic Brain Injury Community

8 December 2010


The focus of traumatic brain injury (TBI) rehabilitation is typically to improve overall cognitive and physical functioning and to increase autonomy and satisfaction with life. The current study examined whether levels of executive functioning and coping strategies were sufficient to predict levels of community integration and life satisfaction in individuals living with a TBI (N=31). I used a series of Pearson product moment correlations to test my hypotheses and a statistical correction method to control for Type I error across a number of bivariate correlations. Participants completed a series of executive functioning tests [Trail Making Test A and B, the Stroop Test, Delis-Kaplan Executive Functioning System (D-KEFS) Tower Test, Rey Complex Figure Test Copy and 3-minute Delay, and D-KEFS Verbal Fluency (FAS)] as well as a series of outcome measures (The Ways of Coping Questionnaire--Revised, Satisfaction with Life Scale, The Community Integration Questionnaire, and The Patient Competency Rating Scale. A caregiver, family member, or significant other of each participant also completed the Patient Competency Rating Scale with respect to the individual with a history of TBI.

The study results suggest that within the brain injury community increased use of Problem-Solving coping strategies is associated with higher levels of community integration. Increased performance on a visual memory test with a complex stimulus was associated with participants having a higher level of self-awareness. Also, better performance on verbal fluency tasks is correlated to higher levels of community integration and decreased use of Emotion-Focused coping strategies by individuals living with TBI. The results suggest important implications for individuals involved in the TBI community. The concepts identified in the literature to determine what is associated or can be used to predict better outcomes for individuals living with a TBI are unclear and vague at best. The present study indicates a high level of complexity between variables involved in contributing to higher levels of community integration and overall life satisfaction for individuals living with TBI. The study identifies some interrelatedness between variables; however, it suggests more complex relationships exist among the variables and must be considered when working with individuals living with TBI.


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