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Goal adjustment and well-being after an acquired brain injury : the role of cognitive flexibility and personality traits

  • Van Bost, Gunther
  • Van Damme, Stefaan
  • Crombez, Geert
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.13531
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Objective: The tendency to flexibly adjust goals that are hindered by chronic illness is related to indicators of wellbeing. However, cognitive flexibility is often impaired in persons with an acquired brain injury (ABI), possibly affecting the ability to flexibly adjust goals. In this study we examined whether cognitive flexibility is positively related with the ability to disengage from goals to reengage with goals in persons with ABI. Second, we explored whether goal adjustment abilities are predictive of a unique proportion of the variance inabilities are predictive of quality of life and life satisfaction after controlling for personality traits. Method: Seventy-eight persons with an ABI completed a set of questionnaires. Goal disengagement and goal reengagement were assessed using the Wrosch Goal Adjustment Scale (GAS). Indicators of wellbeing were measured with the European Brain Injury Questionnaire (EBIQ) and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). The percentage of perseverative errors on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) was used as an indicator of cognitive inflexibility. Big Five personality traits were assessed via the NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI). Four hierarchical multiple regression analyses were then conducted. The first two analyses tested the effect of cognitive flexibility on goal adjustment tendencies. The second two analyses tested whether goal adjustment has a predictive value for life satisfaction and QOL beyond personality. Results: Cognitive flexibility was positively related to goal reengagement, but not to goal disengagement. Goal reengagement was positively associated with both quality of life and life satisfaction after controlling for demographic, illness characteristics and personality factors. Goal disengagement was negatively related to life satisfaction. Conclusion: Flexible goal adjustment abilities have a unique explanatory value for indicators of wellbeing, beyond personality traits. The findings indicate that in persons with lower cognitive flexibility, goal reengagement ability might be negatively affected, and should be taking into account during rehabilitation.

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