Spousal Well-Being of Service Members With Traumatic Brain Injury: A Qualitative Study
Davidson, Leslie Freeman
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Brain injury has become the signature wound of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF), based on estimates that 10% of all returning warriors may have sustained a brain injury secondary to blast exposures. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects the lives of survivors as well as their loved ones, and the consequences associated with TBI inform well-being for all involved. This research uses grounded theory to understand contributing factors of female spousal well-being, specifically the female partners of servicemen who have sustained mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (mMTBI) during combat in OIF/OEF. Through the use of sequential interviews and transcript analysis, the Combat Related Traumatic Brain Injury (CoRTs) Model of Spousal Well-Being emerged illustrating the dynamic relationships among supports, role engagement, the process of redefining self, perceptions of personal empowerment and subjective wellbeing. Four key conclusions were identified from these findings: a) mMTBI affects the life of the surviving service member as well as the life of his partner, b) the myriad consequences of combat-related mMTBI on the female spouse prompted these women to engage in a journey of redefining self, c) communities of influence became the centerpiece from which participants could move forward with their lives or remain in their current state, and d) successful engagement in roles of choice provided study participants experiences from which to establish their new self, fostered perceptions of empowerment, and informed well-being. The CoRTs Model of Well-Being and conclusions provide a framework for future programming designed to target the needs of veterans and family members whose lives have been disrupted by brain injury sustained in combat.
- Doctoral Dissertations