Aim: To explore the narratives created by non-injured family members in relation to themselves and their family in the first year after head injury.
Background: A head injury is a potentially devastating injury. The family responds to this injury by supporting the individual and their recovery. While the perspective of individual family members has been well documented, there is growing interest in how the family as a whole makes sense of their experiences and how these experiences change over time.
Design: Longitudinal narrative case study using unstructured in-depth interviews.
Methods: Data were collected during an 18-month period (August 2009-December 2010). Nine non-injured family members from three families were recruited from an acute neurosurgical ward and individual narrative interviews were held at one, three and 12 months postinjury where participants were asked to talk about their experience of head injury. Analysis was completed on three levels: the individual; the family and between family cases with the aim of identifying a range of interwoven narrative threads.
Findings: Five interwoven narratives were identified: trauma, recovery, autobiographical, suffering and family. The narrative approach emphasized that the year posthead injury was a turbulent time for families, who were active agents in the process of change.
Conclusion: This study has shown the importance of listening to people's stories and understanding their journeys irrespective of the injured person's outcome. Change postinjury is not limited to the injured person: family members need help to understand that they too are changing as a result of their experiences.
- Head injury
- Narrative analysis