Research Reports - Parenting a child with a traumatic brain injury

Brain Inj. 2013 Oct 10

Brown FL, Whittingham K, Sofronoff K, Boyd RN

Abstract Objective: To qualitatively explore the experiences, challenges and
needs of parents of children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) in order to inform
future intervention research through incorporation of participant knowledge and
experience. Methods: Parents of children with TBI (n = 10) and experienced health
professionals in paediatric rehabilitation (n = 5) took part in focus groups or
individual interviews. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and an
inductive thematic analysis performed. Findings: Participants reported that,
beyond the impact of the injury on the child, TBI affects the entire family.
Parents need to adjust to and manage their child's difficulties and can also
experience significant emotional distress, relationship discord and burden of
care, further adding to the challenges of the parenting role. Parents can feel
isolated and the importance of empowerment, support and information was
emphasized. Coping styles of disengagement and avoidance were often reported,
despite acknowledgement that these were not beneficial. Conclusions: Parenting
interventions may provide essential support for parents in adjusting to and
managing their child's difficulties and the efficacy of existing programmes needs
evaluation. Addressing parent emotional adjustment and coping strategies is vital
following paediatric TBI, given the impact on parent well-being and the potential
negative effects on child outcomes through reduced parenting effectiveness. Group
programmes may enable connection and support.

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