Misconceptions about brain injury among the general public and non-expert health professionals: an exploratory study

Brain Inj. 2001 Feb;15(2):149-65. doi: 10.1080/026990501458380.


The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate the lack of knowledge and misconceptions concerning brain injury, as perceived by those with experience of the condition. Using a qualitative research method, 19 semi-structured interviews were conducted with brain-injured individuals, caregivers and professionals who provide social rehabilitation after brain injury. Interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. According to participants, inaccurate and inadequate knowledge about brain injury is common among the general public and among health professionals without expertise in the field of brain injury. The major themes that emerged from the analysis were: inaccurate beliefs about recovery time and possible extent of recovery from brain injury; lack of awareness of the diversity ofproblems it can cause, particularly the existence of behavioural and cognitive sequelae; misconceptions about the capabilities of brain-injured people depending on the visibility or invisibility of their disability: and misidentification of brain-injured individuals as mentally ill or learning disabled. Results are discussed in terms of a theory of illness cognition. Posibilities for further research are discussed, and it is concluded that the results of this study could help guide future information provision to all who may come into contact with brain injury.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Brain Injuries*
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Recovery of Function