The experience of families following Traumatic Brain Injury in adult populations: A meta-synthesis of narrative structures United kingdom

Authors: Whiffin, C., Gracey, F. and Ellis-Hill, C.

Conference: United Kingdom Brain Injury Forum

Dates: 7 November-7 September 2022


Introduction: The effect of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on uninjured family members has typically focused on psychopathological outcomes including stress, depression and anxiety. There is increasing interest in the subjective experiences of families post-injury, leading to a plethora of qualitative studies. The objective of this study was to examine this qualitative literature for what it revealed about the experiences of families following TBI in adult populations.

Methods: A meta-synthesis using Thomas and Harden’s framework of ‘thematic synthesis’. Systematic searches were conducted to identify relevant peer reviewed studies. Two reviewers screened titles, abstracts and full text and reached consensus through critical discussion. Thirty papers were finally agreed for inclusion. Each study was assessed for relevance, resonance and rigour. Line by line coding of the findings in each paper was conducted as the basis for a thematic analysis and synthesis.

Results Following an interpretive analysis informed by a narrative lens eight narrative functions belonging to four dimensions were identified: (1) Displacing and Anchoring; (2) Rupturing and Stabilising; (3) Isolating and Connecting; (4) Harming and Healing. Discussion 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.

Source: Manual