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A close relative of each of 42 severely head injured patients was interviewed at 5 years after injury, following initial study at 3, 6, and 12 months. Persisting severe deficits, in some cases worse than at 1 year, were primarily psychological and behavioural, although minor physical deficits, for example in vision, were also common. Relatives were under great strain; significantly more so than at 1 year. The best predictor of strain in the relative was the magnitude of behavioural and personality change in the patient.