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Constructing Recovery Narratives

Experiences and Expectations Following Spinal Cord Injury

Bender, Alexis A., PhD1; Burgess, Elisabeth O., PhD2

doi: 10.1097/RNJ.0000000000000202
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Purpose This study aimed to explore how married individuals construct narratives following spinal cord injury (SCI).

Design Prospective qualitative study.

Methods Eighteen married people with SCI were recruited during inpatient hospitalization. In-depth interviews were conducted at approximately 1, 4, and 7 months post-SCI. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Findings Participants constructed three primary narrative types (optimistic, anxious, and stability) about their trajectories following SCI, focusing on their expectations about recovery and their past and current experiences with their spouse, peers, and health professionals. These narrative types are the foundation for understanding how people make sense of the rehabilitation experience in relation to others.

Conclusions Findings provide an initial understanding of how expectations of life with SCI as well as social interactions in the healthcare setting influence experiences of injury and recovery.

Clinical Relevance Findings can inform future interventions during SCI rehabilitation to ease transitions and decrease anxiety following SCI.

1 Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA

2 Gerontology Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA

Correspondence: Alexis A. Bender, Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, 1841 Clifton Road, 5th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30329. E-mail:

Cite this article as: Bender, A. A., & Burgess, E.O. (2019). Constructing recovery narratives: experiences and expectations following spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation Nursing, 00(0), 00–00. doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000202

© 2019 Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.
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