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Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation:
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e318205174d
Original

Marital Adjustment and Stability Following Traumatic Brain Injury: A Pilot Qualitative Analysis of Spouse Perspectives

Hammond, Flora M. MD; Davis, Christine S. PhD; Whiteside, Omar Y. MSPH; Philbrick, Peggy; Hirsch, Mark A. PhD

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Abstract

Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI), causing various impairments and functional changes, may adversely impactmarital relationships. However, dynamics of the interactions that contribute to these marital difficulties are complex and poorlyunderstood. There has been little research on marital quality and stability in families of a person with TBI.

Objective: Byidentifying themes of marital adjustment and stability, this qualitative exploratory study examines how a spouse who has experienced TBIaffects the marital relationship.

Methods: Two gender-specific focus groups, each with 5 spouses of individuals living withthe effects of TBI, were conducted to collect data on marital interactions that were analyzed for themes related to marital adjustmentand stability. The data were analyzed using grounded theory, and then relational theories were applied as a framework for organizing themetacodes and concepts.

Results: This study suggests that, after TBI, changes in family dynamics and the way spousesperceive those dynamics affect movement toward pulling together or pulling apart.

Conclusion: Changes in spousalperceptions, interactions, responsibilities, and reactions to brain injury may impact marital stability and satisfaction. Further studyis warranted to better understand and determine whether and how awareness of these changes may be incorporated into treatment.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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