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The experience of families following Traumatic Brain Injury in adult populations: A meta-synthesis of narrative structures.Traumatic brain injury has a significant effect on uninjured family members. Typically, this has been examined with a focus on psychopathological outcomes including stress, depression and anxiety. However, in recent years there has been increasing interest in the subjective experiences of families post-injury leading to a plethora of qualitative studies. Therefore, an in-depth examination and synthesis of this literature is now relevant and timely. To examine the subjective experiences of families following traumatic brain injury in adult populations in the sub/post-acute period through the synthesis of original qualitative research. This paper presents a meta-synthesis using Thomas and Harden’s framework of ‘thematic synthesis’ rooted in a critical realist philosophy. In July 2019 five electronic databases, were searched for the terms ‘traumatic brain injury’, ‘family’ and ‘qualitative’ studies were included if the primary research reported qualitative data about the subjective experiences of family members of adults with traumatic brain injury and had been published in a peer reviewed journal. Studies with mixed brain injury samples, child or adolescent traumatic brain injury or disorders of consciousness were excluded. Hand searching and citation searches were also completed. Two reviewers screened titles, abstracts and full text and reached consensus through critical discussion. Thirty papers were finally agreed for inclusion in this review. Each study was then assessed for relevance, resonance and rigour using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tool. Line by line coding of the findings in each paper was conducted as the basis for a thematic analysis and synthesis. Descriptive themes were identified followed later by analytical themes. This final stage was informed by a narrative lens and from these, eight narrative functions belonging to four dimensions were identified from the subjective experiences of families post-traumatic brain injury. Specifically, these were: (1) Displacing and Anchoring; (2) Rupturing and Stabilising; (3) Isolating and Connecting; (4) Harming and Healing. The interpretation of the narrative functions revealed the substantial existential work involved in negotiating lives, maintaining family system equilibrium and moving forward. As such, family members have their own unique narrative needs. Despite contemporary service models built around the injured person, service providers are well placed to support families in this everyday narrative work through actively attending to narrative structures and understanding the implications of these for family experience.
An exploration of family in the context of head injury: a narrative understanding of changeTraumatic brain injury is potentially devastating. Families commonly respond by supporting the injured individual and their recovery. However, family members are at risk of negative psychological outcomes and family functioning has emerged as a key variable post injury. What is less understood are the subjective changes experienced by families and the impact these have post injury. A longitudinal narrative case study using in-depth narrative qualitative interviews. Data were collected a one, three and 12 months post injury. Nine non-injured family members from three families were recruited from an acute neurosurgical ward. Five interwoven narrative threads were identified: trauma, recovery, autobiographical, suffering and family. The narrative approach emphasized that the first-year post-head injury was a turbulent time for families, who were active agents in the process of change. Families’ stories of illness from a nonpatient perspective need recognition and validation in their own right. understanding this experience in terms of biographical narratives helps to recognize the vacillation between change and continuity. Adopting a narrative approach to rehabilitation may be more positive than adopting a model of loss. Change is not limited to the injured person and family members need help to understand that they too are changing as a result of their experiences. In addition, it is proposed that there be a shift in the discourse in research and practice literature away from loss and towards transition, with greater recognition of the role that uninjured family members play in making sense of change post injury.
How does a narrative understanding of change in families post brain injury help us to humanise our professional practice?In this paper we critically explore the discourse of change post brain injury and challenge the dominant discourse of negative change which alone leaves little room for other perspectives to exist. These negative changes pose a considerable risk to the well-being of families who may benefit from engaging in richer accounts making room for a more coherent and connected sense of self and family post-injury. We explore how narrative approaches provide opportunities for all practitioners to expand their professional scripts and support families to move toward a future which is not dominated by a discourse of loss. While loss and negative change is an important, and very real consequence, of brain injury, focusing purely on stories of loss is life limiting for family members and can cause psychological distress. The life thread model is offered as a visible tool for all practitioners to engage with and use while working with families; providing a concrete focus for reflection and discussion of narratives relating to change which otherwise can feel quite abstract in everyday practice. We argue that one way we can humanise our professional practice is to support all practitioners to engage in a narrative understanding of family change following ABI.
We are not the same people we used to be: an exploration of family biographical narratives and identity change following traumatic brain injurySubjective changes are increasingly recognised as important in recovery and rehabilitation following traumatic brain injury. Accumulation of subjective changes over time has led many to examine the question of ‘continuity of self’ post-injury. Vacillation between feeling the same and different is common and often at odds with the medical narrative preparing families for permanent change. This position of ambiguity was examined in a qualitative narrative study. The aim of this paper is to describe the narrative structures used by uninjured members of a family to understand change. These changes relate primarily, to their perspective of whether and how the injured person had changed, but also secondarily to whether and why they themselves felt they had changed in the first year post-injury. Nine uninjured family members from three families took part in three unstructured interviews during the first twelve months post-injury. In-depth narrative analysis showed family members used biographical attendance; biographical disruption; biographical continuity and biographical reconstruction to understand change. Drawing on these findings it is argued that concentrating on a narrative of change is too limiting and that engaging in biographical narratives may help humanise care provided to injured individuals and their families. Implications for research and practice are discussed