Understanding the role of communication in maintaining and forming friendships following traumatic brain injury Academic Article uri icon


  • PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: To describe and analyse how two adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI) construct meaning about their communication and its impact upon friendships. This information was sought with a view to understanding whether these adults perceived a link between their post-TBI communication and their experience of friendship; and, in addition, which aspects of their communication, if any, emerged as being important in this scenario. RESEARCH DESIGN: A qualitative approach based on Grounded Theory. METHODS AND PROCEDURES: Purposive sampling of two participants living in the community at a minimum of 2 years post-severe TBI was utilized. Data was collected via in-depth semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed for categories and themes. OUTCOMES AND RESULTS: Three major themes were evident: (1) The experience of friendship following TBI, (2) Changes to conversational skill and (3) Opening up to others. Communication change was important in the experience of friendships in so much as difficulties with conversational skill impacted on participation levels and self-disclosure. Participants identified aspects of communication associated with difficulties when interacting with friends and peers. CONCLUSIONS: Participants' stories illustrate the need to address post-TBI communication difficulties within social contexts. Further research addressing communication difficulties that impact on friendships specific to gender, age and time post-injury is warranted.

publication date

  • April 2010