Research Reports - A qualitative study of the reasons why people choose to tell or not tell others about their traumatic brain injury

Brain Inj. 2015 Aug 21:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]

Riley GA(1), Hagger BF(1).

OBJECTIVE: To investigate what goals influence the decisions of people with a
traumatic brain injury to disclose (or not to disclose) information about their
brain injury.
METHOD: Ten people with a traumatic brain injury were interviewed about
disclosing information about their injury to others. Thematic analysis was used
to analyse the data.
RESULTS: The report focuses on disclosure to people other than immediate family
and close friends. Reasons for not disclosing included concern about negative
reactions from others, feelings of shame about the injury, wanting to avoid
getting distressed, wanting to fit in, lack of interest from others and the
perception that the stress associated with the act of disclosing outweighed the
benefits. Reasons for disclosing included obtaining emotional and practical
support from others, the emotional release obtained from disclosure, the need to
explain their behaviour to others and giving others the benefit of their
experience. Experience of negative and stigmatizing reactions from others was
common. Participants varied in their willingness to disclose.
CONCLUSION: Disclosure can have important advantages and disadvantages. Some
people with a TBI may need support in making optimal decisions about disclosure.

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