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Subjective Well-Being in Persons Living With Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury: A Qualitative Study of Personal Journeys

Hunter Revell, Susan M.

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing: August 2009 - Volume 41 - Issue 4 - p E14-E22
doi: 10.1097/JNN.0b013e3181ac3a7b

Living with a spinal cord injury is experienced as a lifelong process. Scientific knowledge, from an insider's perspective, about the relationship between subjective well-being and persons living with spinal cord injuries has been limited. This article reports part of a study that explored the role of subjective well-being and its connection to the phases of recovery in persons living with traumatic spinal cord injury. Using a framework described by H. J. Rubin and I. S. Rubin (2005), three in-depth interviews were carried out with four participants who had a traumatically acquired spinal cord injury and were living in the community. Interviews were audiotaped, and data analysis was ongoing. Well-being was present for each of the participants prior to their injuries and continued to be present during the phases of recovery. Well-being occurred both in the moment of experience and in the broader sense of achieving rehabilitation and life goals. Positive feelings were connected with making progress, being productive, returning to a routine, and sustaining relationships. Future research is needed to focus on how nurses can assist persons living with spinal cord injury to achieve goals, return to normalcy, and maintain well-being.

Knowledge concerning the unique relationship between subjective well-being and persons living with spinal cord injuries has been limited to date. In this article, the author explores the role of subjective well-being-in the voices of individual patients-and its links to phases of recovery in this population.

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Susan M. Hunter Revell, PhD RN, at She is an assistant professor at the College of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA.

© 2009 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses