Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > How People Make Sense of their Partner’s Cognit...

Electronic data

  • 2019HayleyButlerDClinPsy

    Final published version, 3.74 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

How People Make Sense of their Partner’s Cognitive and Emotional Difficulties Following Acquired Brain Injury

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date10/10/2022
Number of pages219
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The primary focus of the research is caregivers of people who have had an acquired brain injury (ABI); the literature review collated evidence in relation to caregiver resilience and the empirical paper focussed on partners in particular.
Section one details the systematic literature review. It aimed to review all of the quantitative research exploring resilience and related constructs (RARCs: resiliency, posttraumatic growth [PTG], and hardiness) in caregivers of people with ABI. There was a particular emphasis on how authors defined their constructs, and the quantitative relationships of RARCs that were elucidated. Three databases were searched: CINAHL, MEDLINE and PsychINFO. Inclusion criteria were broad: papers must have used a measure for their RARC construct, and have used this to perform some type of statistical analysis. Twenty-six papers were included. Findings showed that resilience and resiliency were not narrowly defined, and often crossed over, or became confused with other RARCs. Generally, high RARCs scores were associated with good outcomes, and low RARCs scores were associated with poorer outcomes.

Section two details the empirical paper, exploring people’s sense-making of their partner’s cognitive and emotional difficulties following ABI. Six working-age partners of people who had an ABI were interviewed and transcribed data was analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis. Five themes were constructed: : (1) “I don’t know…it’s a weird thing to describe": The complicated nature of ABI; (2) “So you try and work around it”: The exhausting task of taking on the extra cognitive and emotional load; (3) “You’re not the partner anymore”: Finding a new relational dynamic; (4) “It’s like this ultimate patrol”: The need to protect; (5) The lack of effective support is isolating. Clinical implications were discussed.

Section three appraises sections one and two critically, including further strengths, challenges, clinical implications and some of the author’s reflections through the process.