Maternal Experiences of Self-Identity and Family Identity after a Child acquires an Acquired Brain Injury: A Constructivist Grounded Theory Analysis
Natwick, Jameson Eric
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An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) can have lasting effects on the self-identity of the injured individual, but also on the self-identity of other family members. Using Contextual Family Stress Theory as a guiding theoretical framework, this qualitative study investigated how mothers experience changes and alterations in their self-identity and family identity, as well as the reconstruction of self-identity and family identity, after a child acquires an ABI. These experiences are important to capture so that clinicians and professionals may better understand the phenomenon of post-ABI self- and family identity and to help inform rehabilitation and professional services. Currently, research has been narrowly focused upon functional gains for individuals and families in rehabilitation while excluding changes in self-identity and family identity. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and self-report measures of individual mothers' needs and perceptions of the injured child. A constructivist grounded theory analysis was used to analyze the data. Findings reveal the reconstruction processes of mothers' self-identity and family identity after a child receives an ABI, such as internal and external self-identity and intentionality in reconfiguring family identity. Furthermore, results suggest that positive adaptation in self-identity and family identity promote resilience to the changes from the child's ABI. Future research directions, theoretical, and clinical implications are discussed.
General Audience Abstract
An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) can happen in many ways, such as a hard hit to the head or the brain not getting enough oxygen. Children and adolescents are among the age groups that have the highest rates of ABIs. The effects from an ABI are long lasting and impact the injured person in many ways, including their identity or sense of self. When a child receives an ABI, the parents' self-identity and the overall family identity is also affected. The goal of this study was to provide a better understanding of changes in self-identity and family identity for mothers who have a child or adolescent with an ABI. For this study, I recruited 14 mothers of a child with an ABI, and the mothers engaged in interviews and completed several short surveys. The mothers shared important information about changes in self-identity and family identity and made suggestions about how medical and rehabilitation services can better support families affected by ABIs. Findings revealed that families who are intentional about discussing changes to the family, such as role shifts or changes in routine, and expressing emotions adapt more effectively to the consequences from an ABI. Furthermore, the results suggest recommendations for rehabilitation professionals in supporting mothers and families. These include, educating the family about ABIs and involving mothers and families as part of the treatment process. Future directions for further research studies are identified as well as a discussion on best practices for clinicians.
- Doctoral Dissertations