Date Presented 04/22/2023

This poster will present study findings related to demographic and psychosocial factors affecting an individual’s use of coping strategies and the impacts of coping strategies on health-related quality of life and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic in people with and without acquired brain injury (ABI). Implications for OT clinical practice with people with ABI will be suggested.

Primary Author and Speaker: Hayejin Kim

Additional Authors and Speakers: Dominique Burke, Evelyn Russo

Contributing Authors: Gerald Voelbel, Yael Goverover, Grace J. Kim, Helen Genova, Michelle Chen, Amanda Botticello

PURPOSE: The current study examined factors related to an individual’s use of coping strategies and how the use of coping strategies affected health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic in Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and Healthy Adults (HA) groups.

DESIGN: This study was a cross-sectional survey research design. Participants were recruited through social media posts, study flyers, email outreach to local neurological clinical departments, and existing stroke research registries from two research sites. Inclusion criteria included being over the age of 18, having a diagnosis of stroke or TBI for the ABI group, having no neurological diagnoses for HA group, and living in the community. Exclusion criteria included having neurologic diagnoses other than TBI or stroke, or diagnoses of mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder).

METHOD: A self-administered online survey was used to explore how factors such as income, functional social support, resilience, and depression and anxiety affected the use of healthy and unhealthy coping strategies during the pandemic. We also examined how the use of coping strategies was associated with HRQoL and COVID-19 specific distress during the pandemic. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize participant characteristics. Frequencies were used for coping strategy items. Group differences were analyzed using Independent t-test, Fisher’s exact test, and Chi-square test. Kruskal-Wallis test was used when data were not normally distributed or the variances were not equal between groups. Linear regression models were used to examine predictors of the use of different coping strategies and COVID-19 specific distress and HRQoL.

RESULTS: Participants included 87 individuals with ABI and 99 HAs. In both ABI and HA groups, participants with lower incomes used more unhealthy coping strategies, such as the use of cigarettes, alcohol, non-prescription drugs, and cannabis or marijuana, compared to those with higher income (p=0.044). In both groups, higher functional social support and resilience scores predicted the use of more healthy coping strategies (p<0.001), while participants with depression and anxiety used more unhealthy coping strategies (p<0.001). The use of more unhealthy coping strategies predicted higher levels of COVID-19 distress and lower HRQoL (p<0.001).

CONCLUSION: Income status and psychosocial factors affected the type of coping strategies utilized by individuals with and without ABI, which ultimately impacted their distress and HRQoL. It is important for individuals to have healthy strategies to maintain their mental health and HRQoL and effectively cope with stress in stressful situations. This could be especially important for the ABI population, who may have higher levels of depression and anxiety. Occupational therapists should help identify resources available for individuals who have fewer socioeconomic resources and psychological history, educate them on the importance of using healthy coping strategies, and how to utilize them in their daily lives.


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