Evid Based Nurs 2:64 doi:10.1136/ebn.2.2.64
  • Qualitative

People with traumatic brain injuries used various strategies to deal with labels applied by society

 Question How do interactions with society affect the sense of self of individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)?


Grounded theory.


Midsized city in northeastern USA.


10 adults (age 24–54 y, 8 men) with TBI (primarily as a result of car accidents) were recruited from a TBI support group. All participants lived in the community, had the skills to participate in interviews, and understood that they had TBI.


Data were collected using ≥2 semi-structured interviews. Additional data were obtained from >100 hours of participant observation and from email messages from 13 people (age 26–61 y, 8 women) posted to a TBI internet discussion group. Field notes documented participants' non-verbal behaviour, activities in natural settings, and the author's reflections as an observer. Data were analysed using constant comparison analysis. Findings were confirmed with participants and with other people with TBI.

Main findings

The main theme expressed by participants was that society attached both negative and positive images to them that often contradicted their …

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