Objectives: (a) Identify life satisfaction trajectories after moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI); (b) establish a predictive model for these trajectories across the first 5 years postinjury; and (c) describe differences in these life satisfaction trajectory groups, focusing on age, depressive symptoms, disability, and participation in specific life roles.
Research method: Analysis of the longitudinal TBI Model Systems National Database was performed on data collected prospectively at 1-, 2-, and 5-years post-TBI. Participants (n = 3,012) had a moderate to severe TBI and were 16 years old and older.
Results: Four life satisfaction trajectories were identified across the first 5 years postinjury, including: stable satisfaction, initial satisfaction declining, initial dissatisfaction improving, and stable dissatisfaction. Age, depressive symptoms, cognitive disability, and life role participation as a worker, leisure participant, and/ or religious participant at 1-year postinjury significantly predicted trajectory group membership. Life role participation and depressive symptoms were strong predictors of life satisfaction trajectories across the first 5 years post-TBI.
Conclusions: The previously documented loss of life roles and prevalence of depression after a moderate to severe TBI make this a vulnerable population for whom low or declining life satisfaction is a particularly high risk. Examining individual life role participation may help to identify relevant foci for community-based rehabilitation interventions or supports.
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