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Multifamily Group Treatment for Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injury: What Is the Value to Participants?
Kristy Straits-Troster, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.; Jennifer M. Gierisch, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Jennifer L. Strauss, Ph.D.; Dennis G. Dyck, Ph.D.; Lisa B. Dixon, M.D., M.P.H.; Diane Norell, M.S.W., O.T.R./L.; Deborah A. Perlick, Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 2013; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.001632012
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Dr. Straits-Troster is affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Mid-Atlantic Region Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Durham, North Carolina, and with the Phoenix VA Health Care System, 650 E. Indian School Rd., 116-B, Phoenix, AZ 85012 (e-mail: kristy.straits-troster@va.gov). Dr. Gierisch is with the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham VA Medical Center, and with the Department of Medicine, Duke University, Durham. Dr. Strauss is with the Health Services Research and Development Service, Durham VA Medical Center, and with the Department of Psychiatry, Duke University. Dr. Dyck is with the Department of Psychology, Washington State University, Spokane. Dr. Dixon is with the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, and with the Center for Practice Innovations, New York State Psychiatric Institute, both in New York City. Ms. Norell is with the Department of Occupational Therapy, Eastern Washington University, Cheney. Dr. Perlick is with the Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, and with the VA MIRECC, Bronx, New York.

Copyright © 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association


Objective  This study evaluated the feasibility, acceptability, and helpfulness of implementation of multifamily group treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI) among veterans who sustained a TBI during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families or caregivers.

Methods  Veterans and their family members who participated in an open clinical trial (August 2010–March 2011) of multifamily psychoeducation for TBI at two Veterans Affairs medical centers were invited to one of three focus groups. Participants were asked about problems experienced before and during the intervention, aspects of treatment that were helpful, and improvements that would facilitate effective implementation of multifamily group treatment for TBI. Postintervention focus group transcripts were analyzed by utilizing qualitative content analysis.

Results  Participants included eight veterans with TBI and eight family members. Five themes emerged: exploring common struggles and reducing isolation, building skills to cope with TBI and related problems, restoring relationships through communication and understanding, increasing understanding of the interconnection between TBI and posttraumatic stress disorder, and improving the multifamily group experience and increasing treatment engagement of veterans and families. Veterans and family members found multifamily group treatment for TBI highly acceptable and offered recommendations to improve and increase access to the program.

Conclusions  The results supported the feasibility and acceptability of multifamily group treatment for TBI. Specific recommendations to improve this psychoeducational intervention and its implementation are offered.

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Table 1Themes identified by veterans and families during focus groups about multifamily group treatment for traumatic brain injury


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