Research Reports - The impact of alexithymia on burnout amongst relatives of people who suffer from traumatic brain injury

Brain Inj. 2014 Jun 19:1-7

Katsifaraki M(1), Wood RL

Abstract Background: Although previous research has provided some indication of
the association of alexithymia and burnout, this is the first study exploring the
association of these two variables in a sample of relatives of individuals who
have sustained traumatic brain injury (TBI). Objective: To explore the degree to
which relatives experience burnout and the extent to which alexithymia acts as a
pre-disposing factor, controlling for depression and coping strategies. Method:
Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20, Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services, Estonian
COPE Dispositional Inventory and Beck Depression Inventory-II were completed by
60 relatives of patients with TBI drawn from a tertiary head injury clinic
population. Results: Levels of emotional exhaustion, reduced personal
accomplishment and depression were significantly higher in the sub-group of
relatives with alexithymia than in the sub-group of relatives without
alexithymia. Difficulty describing feelings and externally oriented thinking
style were significant predictors of emotional exhaustion, while difficulty
identifying feelings and difficulty describing feelings were important predictors
of depersonalization. Conclusions: Relatives who present with alexithymia need to
be identified at an early stage to minimize risks of burnout leading to adverse
effects on patient-caregiver relationships.

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