Modeling the prospective relationships of impairment, injury severity, and participation to quality of life following traumatic brain injury.
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Identifying reliable predictors of positive adjustment following traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains an important area of inquiry. Unfortunately, much of available research examines direct relationships between predictor variables and outcomes without attending to the contextual relationships that can exist between predictor variables. Relying on theoretical models of well-being, we examined a theoretical model of adjustment in which the capacity to engage in intentional activities would be prospectively associated with greater participation, which in turn would predict subsequent life satisfaction and perceived health assessed at a later time. Structural equation modeling of data collected from 312 individuals (226 men, 86 women) with TBI revealed that two elements of participation--mobility and occupational activities--mediated the prospective influence of functional independence and injury severity to optimal adjustment 60 months following medical discharge for TBI. The model accounted for 21% of the variance in life satisfaction and 23% of the variance in self-rated health. Results indicate that the effects of functional independence and injury severity to optimal adjustment over time may be best understood in the context of participation in meaningful, productive activities. Implications for theoretical models of well-being and for clinical interventions that promote adjustment after TBI are discussed.