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Published on: Mar 3, 2016
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Acquired Brain Injury - Family Education Workshops:
Evaluation of Participant Feedback
O’Sullivan, M1,2., Tuohy, I1,2., MacGarry, D1,2.,
Flynn, C1., Kinsella, K1., Power, S1., Walsh, M1.,
& von Mensenkampff, B1., D ClinPsych.
1. Headway, Kenny Group House, Carrigrohane Road. Co. Cork
2. University College Cork, Co. Cork
Post natal acquired brain injury (ABI) can occur in
individuals as a result of trauma, metabolic disturbances,
systemic illness, tumours, infections, toxins, and/or
medical treatment (Middleton, 2005). Pertinently, ABI has
been shown to affect not only the individual with the brain
injury and their primary caregiver, but also the
functioning of the entire family unit, often as a result of
caregiver strain (Gan et al., 2006). Importantly, from a list
of possible needs, families of individuals with brain injury
have described information and reassurance needs as
being of primary concern; research has shown that when a
family’s needs are unmet, they feel misunderstood,
isolated and unsupported (Kreutzer et al., 1994).
Family education programs have been shown to
help individuals understand the nature of their relative’s
brain injury and improve their ability to cope (Maitz &
Sachs, 1995). Furthermore, group family education can
also provide a social environment that may serve as a
means of increasing social support. Moreover, research
has shown that caregiver social support is the strongest
mediator of family functioning and caregiver distress in
traumatic brain injury (TBI) (Ergh et al., 2002). Finally,
the positive outcomes of family education have in turn
been associated with lower levels of depression in the
relative with TBI (Leach et al., 1994).
Therefore, ABI services such as Headway utilise
family education group programs to complement their
intervention measures aimed at family members and
friends. Thus, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness
of each program, as perceived by participant feedback in
order to understand what aspects of the programs are met
with participant satisfaction, and where improvements can
be made. Indeed, the need to carry out studies that assess
the effectiveness of caregiver and family interventions has
previously been noted by past research (Boschen et al.,
Research Aims and Objectives
The aim of the present study is to assess participant
evaluation of family education programs at Headway ABI
service in order to improve the provision of services for
clients, caregivers, and families.
• Table 1 outlines the percentage of agreement among
participants in relation to workshop aims and content.
• The percentage endorsement of usefulness of content
increased over 3 workshops (see figure 1).
• Participants mentioned across workshops in their
additional comments that:
• The information provided was helpful for learning
to cope with the ABI and helped give insight into
aspects of ABI that they would not have conceived
of before attending the workshop.
• It was nice to meet others who were experiencing a
similar situation to themselves.
• Workshops allowed for engagement with,
acknowledgement of and reflection on one’s own
personal feelings, thoughts and emotions since a
relative or friends’ABI.
• 90% (n=47) of the 52 respondents were happy with
the scheduling of the education sessions.
• Work commitments and timing of the workshops were
cited by some attendees, in their additional comments,
as not optimal.
• The data available for comparing satisfaction between
time for discussion between one and a half hour
sessions and two and a half hour sessions was limited
to responses from seventeen and seven participants in
each group respectively.
• 77% (13 participants) and 86% (6 participants) of
these small groups surveyed felt that the session length
allowed adequate time for discussion.
Group structure and dynamic
• All participants (n=32) responded that the number of
participants was sufficient.
• Discussion of issues was generally seen as a positive
feature; 81% (17) of the 21 respondents felt that
sufficient discussion of issues was achieved.
• 24 out of 25 participants would be willing to attend a
monthly follow-up session.
• The desire to receive more sessions was mentioned by
Research Design: A retrospective quantitative
investigation was carried out on family education
workshops run by Headway using frequency analysis.
Participants: 53 participants’ forms were investigated.
Participants were family members and friends of clients
with brain injury and all participants were 18 years or
Material and Measures: Feedback forms consisted of
between 3-8 questions relating to participants’ experiences
of the family psycho-education workshop.
Procedure: Feedback forms collected at the end of eight
separate workshops dating from November 2010 to May
2014 were gathered for the purpose of analysis. Questions
across the different feedback forms were collated and
aggregated into four categories; Workshop aims/content,
session structure, group structure/dynamic, and
willingness to attend follow-up sessions. Participant
satisfaction was gauged in relation to their responses to
these four categories.
Results indicate that:
• Family education workshops are beneficial in
educating families with regard to ABI and improving
managing/ coping skills.
• Workshops reduce feelings of isolation amongst
family members whilst also increasing peer support..
• 90 minute sessions consisting of between 8-12
participants are seen as optimal.
Results inform potential improvements to workshop
services including the provision of:
• An evening session to suit carers/family members
who are employed outside the home.
• Increased discussion time at the end of sessions.
• A SMS service that includes monthly updates
pertaining to ABI information such as websites links
with ABI related content and upcoming TV
documentaries or accessible articles about ABI.
• Small sample size.
• Not everyone returned feedback form.
• Non-standardised measure (lack of uniform questions
• Secondary data.
• Lack of information on demographics.
• Subjective views being reported.
• Lack of a pre and post measure
% Satisfied with
Number of days
Workshop aims/ content
Figure 1. Percentage of respondents who found
course content about brain injury useful
Boschen, K., Gargaro, J., Gan, C., Gerber, G., & Brandys, C. (2007). Family interventions after acquired brain injury and
other chronic conditions: A critical appraisal of the quality of the evidence. NeuroRehabilitation, 22(1), 19-41.
Ergh, T. C., Rapport, L. J., Coleman, R. D., & Hanks, R. A. (2002). Predictors of caregiver and family functioning
following traumatic brain injury: Social support moderates caregiver distress. The Journal of Head Trauma
Rehabilitation, 17(2), 155-174.
Gan, C., Campbell, K. A., Gemeinhardt, M., & McFadden, G. T. (2006). Predictors of family system functioning after
brain injury. Brain Injury, 20(6), 587-600.
Kreutzer, J. S., Gervasio, A. H., & Camplair, P. S. (1994). Primary caregivers' psychological status and family functioning
after traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 8(3), 197-210.
Leach, L. R., Frank, R. G., Bouman, D. E., & Farmer, J. (1994). Family functioning, social support and depression after
traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 8(7), 599-606.
Maitz, E. A., & Sachs, P. R. (1995). Treating families of individuals with traumatic brain injury from a family systems
perspective. The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 10(2), 1-11.
Middleton, J. A. (2005). Acquired brain injury. Psychiatry, 4(7), 61-64.