Mild brain injury has a favorable outcome while severe brain injury can have a strong negative impact on societal participation and quality of life. However, some patients have low levels of participation despite a mild injury while others seem to participate quite well despite the consequences of severe brain damage. This implies that other factors besides injury-related factors are important in determining outcome after brain injury. In this symposium the focus will be on the influence of personal factors on outcome. Personal factors can comprise demographic factors such as age and gender, personal history such as education and life events, personality traits, skills and behavioral patterns, but also thoughts and feelings, and goals and expectations. Personal factors are decisive in dealing with complaints and emotional distress after brain injury. We would like to put forward that the influence of these personal factors on outcome after brain injury should not be underestimated and these factors may add to the unexplained variance in prediction models. We will illustrate this statement by presenting the results of two large sale longitudinal cohort studies on stroke (Restore4stroke study) and mild traumatic brain injury (Upfront study). In the Restore4 stroke study 395 stroke patients were included in the first week after the incident and followed up to two years post stroke with follow up measurements at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months. In the Upfront study 1151 patients were included after admission to the Emergency Department as a result of a traumatic brain injury and followed for one year post injury. In both studies several personal factors were measures including psychological factors such as coping styles and personality traits such as optimism/pessimism.
We will present:
1) the time course of these factors
2) the predictive value of these factors for outcome
3) the potential alleviation of the negative aspects of these factors using psychological treatment
We have conducted several randomised clinical trials in which a psychological treatments aimed at increasing active, adaptive coping styles were investigated. We will present the results of these studies as well as discuss the implications for clinical practice.