The experiences of wives following acquired brain injury (ABI). A qualitative analysis exploring realisations of change following the ABI of a “loved one”

Chloe Ghosh-Cannell, Paul Fisher, Julia Ajayi, Fergus Gracey

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The experiences of family members following Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) are well established, with spouses in particular facing multiple relational and personal changes. Qualitative studies have analysed accounts pertaining to a range of sequelae, however, “change” itself has yet to be addressed. This study explored the experiences of realisation of change for married women living with their husbands following ABI. Nine participants took part in semi-structured interviews focussing on becoming aware of changes in both their spouse and themselves post-injury. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was completed, arriving at two overarching themes; “bravery to face changes” and “lost and trapped in an unsolvable maze,” with accompanying subthemes. Participants generally experienced realisation of change gradually, in some cases finding strategies to control their exposure to distress. They often referred to “acceptance,” which held varied meanings, and metaphors appeared to aid personal meaning making. Relationship changes generated both dilemmas and the feeling of being trapped. Overall, this study contributes greater insights into the experiential mechanisms underpinning realisation of change in spouses after brain injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-377
Number of pages22
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Brain injury
  • Family
  • Marriage
  • Qualitative
  • Stroke

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