Coping and wellbeing in families with a child with acquired brain injury compared with families in the community

Penelope Analytis, Narelle Warren, Alison Crichton, Sarah Knight, Jennie Ponsford

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: Paediatric acquired brain injury (ABI) negatively impacts parental wellbeing and family functioning. Adaptive coping, that is behaviours promoting emotional wellbeing and addressing distressing problems, may support wellbeing and family functioning. This study compared wellbeing, coping, and family functioning between parents of a child with ABI and parents in the community, and examined coping as a predictor of wellbeing and family functioning. Methods: Forty parents of a child with ABI and 40 parents in the community participated in this cross-sectional survey using the Personal Wellbeing Index, Coping Scale for Adults Short Form, McMaster Family Assessment Device (General Functioning Subscale). Results: The ABI group had statistically significantly lower wellbeing, t(68.70) = −4.01, p < 0.001, lower adaptive coping, t(73.95) = −3.27, p = 0.002, and poorer family functioning, t(77) = 4.26, p < 0.001. Family composition (single-parent/couple), having a child with ABI, adaptive coping, and non-productive coping predicted 47.7% of the variance in wellbeing, F(5, 70) = 12.75, p < 0.001. Parental education, having a child with ABI, and non-productive coping predicted 35.9% of the variance in family functioning, F(5, 69) = 7.71, p < 0.001. Conclusions: Adaptive coping may contribute to better family outcomes in paediatric ABI.Implications for rehabilitation Paediatric ABI may have a significant impact on the child with ABI and the family, leading to poorer outcomes for some families. This study suggested that parents of a child with ABI use adaptive coping less than parents in the community but do not differ in the use of non-productive coping. Families need long-term targeted support to meet the challenges paediatric ABI presents and may benefit from interventions which actively seek to change parental coping strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Dec 2021


  • Acquired brain injury
  • coping
  • family functioning
  • paediatric
  • parental wellbeing

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