A Qualitative Exploration of Experiences Following Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Melissa Robertshaw

Student thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


Paper one is a systematic literature review utilising a metasynthesis approach to investigate experiences of family members of adults with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A systematic literature search identified sixteen studies which met the inclusion criteria. These studies were then critically appraised and their findings synthesised. The synthesis demonstrated that family members of adults with a TBI faced significantly increased responsibilities towards the individual, at the expense of other commitments. As the individual's process of recovery progressed, family members developed changed perspectives which served to reduce the impact of the injury on their lives. The development of these perspectives was mediated by the emotional consequences of the responsibilities undertaken and the family member's unmet support needs. The objective of paper two was to investigate the concept of acceptance in individuals with a TBI, and factors that facilitated or hindered this process. A qualitative methodology was employed and semi-structured interviews were conducted with eleven participants who had sustained a TBI. Interview transcripts were analysed using grounded theory methodology. A model detailing the process of acceptance in TBI was developed, encompassing five core categories: "understanding limitations", "changed perspectives", "confirmation of prognosis", "adapt and overcome", and "barriers to acceptance". Participants' narratives focused on their attempts to understand their changed selves, and the changed perceptions and support from others that facilitated them to move forward and adapt to achieve acceptance, in the context of barriers that prevented them from progressing.The final paper is a critical appraisal of the research process focusing on my experiences of conducting qualitative research investigating acceptance in individuals with a TBI. This appraisal initially explains why a grounded theory methodology was selected. It then details my reflections on challenges encountered in recruitment, conducting the interviews, measurement and analysis. The knowledge and skills I gained through the process are identified, with reference to their importance for my learning and progression towards becoming a qualified clinical psychologist.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPenelope Trayner (Supervisor)

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