Families of patients with polytrauma: Understanding the evidence and charting a new research agenda

Joan M. Griffin, Greta Friedemann-Sánchez, Carmen Hall, Sean Phelan, Michelle Van Ryn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Although research shows that caring for a family member with chronic disease or disability can cause significant distress for caregivers, it also shows that families that function well and adequately support patients can improve the quality of life and health outcomes for their ill or disabled family member. Currently, little knowledge exists about how families function and cope after a loved one has sustained polytrauma, the multiple traumatic injuries that often include traumatic brain injury (TBI). We summarize the polytrauma and TBI research about family needs during rehabilitation and recovery, describe current efforts to improve family-centered care, and detail approaches for understanding family resilience and the long-term consequences of injuries on families. We conclude with recommendations for future research in inpatient and outpatient settings where evidence has been limited for families of patients with TBI and is nonexistent for families of patients with polytrauma. Understanding many of these issues will help to better inform families of policies for benefits and resources and help researchers and clinicians plan for appropriate interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-892
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009


  • Caregiving
  • Families
  • Family care map
  • Information needs
  • Polytrauma
  • Rapid assessment process
  • Recovery
  • Rehabilitation
  • Resilience
  • Stress
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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