Social problem solving and community integration in adults with traumatic brain injury

Joseph Francis Rath, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to enhance understanding of the role that problem-solving ability plays in psychosocial adjustment following traumatic brain injury (TBI). This goal was addressed by uniting two previously distinct fields of inquiry: counseling psychology's literature on social problem solving and rehabilitation neuropsychology's literature on community integration in individuals with TBI. A sample of adults with TBI and intact general intellectual ability ( n = 45) was assessed on measures of community integration (Community Integration Questionnaire), social problem-solving self-appraisal (Problem Solving Inventory), social problem-solving performance (Personal Problem-Solving System) and cognitive problem solving (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test). As hypothesized, when compared to healthy controls, adults with TBI demonstrated poor social problem-solving ability as measured by both self-appraisal and performance methods. In addition, social problem-solving self-appraisal predicted a significant proportion of the variance (21%) in community integration in the TBI sample. This study provides the first empirical support for the long-postulated relationship between social problem solving and real-life adjustment in individuals with TBI. The findings contribute to the knowledge base concerning barriers that interfere with a return to “normal life” for TBI survivors and may allow psychologists to make more accurate prognoses and more focused psychoeducational and rehabilitative interventions. The utility of the self-report data is consistent with recent research which has indicated that self-report in individuals with TBI may be more meaningful than previously understood and therefore a potential source of valuable information. The current findings thus contribute to the empirical basis for the trend toward increased consideration of TBI survivors' self-report, especially in higher-level outpatient cognitive rehabilitation. Given the empirical support obtained in this study for the relationship between social problem-solving self-appraisal and community integration, psychoeducational interventions designed to improve social problem-solving ability might be expected to positively impact the community integration levels of individuals with TBI. Empirical validation of the social problem-solving model as a framework for higher-level cognitive rehabilitation strategies, and the impact of such strategies on community integration levels, should be explored.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Rehabilitation|Therapy|Cognitive therapy

Recommended Citation

Rath, Joseph Francis, "Social problem solving and community integration in adults with traumatic brain injury" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9975364.