Military Injuries-Understanding Posttraumatic Epilepsy, Health, and Quality-of-Life Effects of Caregiving: Protocol for a Longitudinal Mixed Methods Observational Study

Erin D. Bouldin, Roxana Delgado, Kimberly Peacock, Willie Hale, Ali Roghani, Amira Y. Trevino, Mikayla Viny, David W. Wetter, Mary Jo Pugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Veterans with posttraumatic epilepsy (PTE), particularly those with comorbidities associated with epilepsy or traumatic brain injury (TBI), have poorer health status and higher symptom burden than their peers without PTE. One area that has been particularly poorly studied is that of the role of caregivers in the health of veterans with PTE and the impact caring for someone with PTE has on the caregivers themselves. Objective: In this study, we aim to address the following: describe and compare the health and quality of life of veterans and caregivers of veterans with and without PTE; evaluate the change in available supports and unmet needs for services among caregivers of post-9/11 veterans with PTE over a 2-year period and to compare support and unmet needs with those without PTE; and identify veteran and caregiver characteristics associated with the 2-year health trajectories of caregivers and veterans with PTE compared with veterans without PTE. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study of the health and quality of life among 4 groups of veterans and their caregivers: veterans with PTE, nontraumatic epilepsy, TBI only, and neither epilepsy nor TBI. We will recruit participants from previous related studies and collect information about both the veterans and their primary informal caregivers on health, quality of life, unmet needs for care, PTE and TBI symptoms and treatment, relationship, and caregiver experience. Data sources will include existing data supplemented with primary data, such as survey data collected at baseline, intermittent brief reporting using ecological momentary assessment, and qualitative interviews. We will make both cross-sectional and longitudinal comparisons, using veteran-caregiver dyads, along with qualitative findings to better understand risk and promotive factors for quality of life and health among veterans and caregivers, as well as the bidirectional impact of caregivers and care recipients on one another. Results: This study was approved by the institutional review boards of the University of Utah and Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs and is under review by the Human Research Protection Office of the United States Army Medical Research and Development Command. The Service Member, Veteran, and Caregiver Community Stakeholders Group has been formed and the study questionnaire will be finalized once the panel reviews it. We anticipate the start of recruitment and primary data collection by January 2022. Conclusions: New national initiatives aim to incorporate the caregiver into the veteran s treatment plan; however, we know little about the impact of caregiving-both positive and negative-on the caregivers themselves and on the veterans for whom they provide care. We will identify specific needs in this understudied population, which will inform clinicians, patients, families, and policy makers about the specific impact and needs to equip caregivers in caring for veterans at home.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere30975
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • caregiver
  • ecologic momentary assessment
  • epilepsy
  • health status
  • longitudinal studies
  • military personnel
  • qualitative research
  • quality of life
  • traumatic brain injury
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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