Factors Impacting Sense of Community Among Adults With Brain Injury

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Purpose: Despite increasing interest in examining community outcomes following disability, sense of community (SOC) has received relatively no attention in the rehabilitation literature. SOC refers to feelings of belonging and attachment one has for a community and is of particular relevance for people with brain injury who are at increased risk of social isolation. The aim of this study was to investigate factors contributing to SOC for individuals with brain injury. Method: Members from 2 brain injury associations (n = 98) participated in this survey-based study. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to explore demographic, disability-related, community and social participation variables’ impact on SOC with regard to one’s town or city. Follow-up mediation analyses were conducted to explore relationships among social self-efficacy, support network, neighboring behavior, and SOC. Results: Findings indicated that disability-related and community variables accounted for over 40% of the variance in SOC. Size of social support network was the only significant independent contributor to SOC variance. Follow-up analyses provided support for (a) the partial mediating effect of social support network size on the relationship between social self-efficacy and SOC, and (b) the mediating effect of neighboring behavior on the relationship between social self-efficacy and social support network size. Conclusions: Findings from this study highlight the particular importance of self-efficacy, social support, and neighboring behaviors in promoting SOC for people with brain injury. Recommendations are provided to advance research efforts and inform intervention approaches to improve the felt experience of community among people with brain injury.

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