gms | German Medical Science

58. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie e. V. (DGNC)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (DGNC) e. V.

26. bis 29.04.2007, Leipzig

Quality of life one year after acute brain damage in patients and their spouses

Lebensqualität ein Jahr nach akuter Hirnschädigung bei Patienten und deren Partnern

Meeting Abstract

Search Medline for

  • corresponding author F. Balck - Medizinische Psychologie und Medizinische Soziologie, Universitätsklinikum Dresden
  • A. Dinkel - Medizinische Psychologie und Medizinische Soziologie, Universitätsklinikum Dresden

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. 58. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie e.V. (DGNC). Leipzig, 26.-29.04.2007. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2007. DocP 055

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: April 11, 2007

© 2007 Balck et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: Many studies have investigated the psychological adaptation of patients with brain-injury and the burden and health of family caregivers. However, the impact of family characteristics on the adaptation of brain-injured patients has received less attention. Recently, some studies have been conducted that focused on the role family factors play in the adaptation process. Most of these studies used a cross-sectional design. We conducted a prospective study that aimed at investigating the role of social factors in the adaptation process after traumatic brain injury (TBI) or subarachnoidal haemorrhage (SAH).

Methods: The first assessment took place as short as possible after the incident. One year later, patients and spouses were administered, among other instruments, the WHOQOL-BREF. This instrument is designed to measure the quality of life in the four domains physical, psychological, social, and environment. Additionally, a global score can be computed. Follow-up data for N=32 patients and N=42 spouses are available; ten patients were unable to provide data on the WHOQOL. Mean age of patients and spouses at time of injury was about 44 years. 48% of the patients had sustained a moderate and 52% a severe brain injury. 60% of the patiens were male.

Results: The comparison with the normative data on the WHOQOL revealed that neither the patients nor the spouses showed a marked reduction of their qualiy of life. Cross-sectional analyses showed significant associations primarily between anxiety and depression and the quality of life. Furthermore, longitudinal analyses provided hints for the importance of spouses' level of anxiety shortly after the incident and pre-injury family characteristics for the quality of life one year after brain injury.

Conclusions: The results indicate that there are couples who achieve and maintain an acceptable quality of life one year after brain injury. Anxiety symptoms seem to play a major role in determining quality of life. Furthermore, pre-injury couple and family functioning probably are of additional importance.