Purpose: This study sought to explore individual experience in developing a mastery of daily activities and roles after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) with the objective of returning to work.
Method: Eight 30-60-year-old men, employed at the time of injury, were each interviewed three times over a 6-month period. Ten to 21 months after the injuries, four participants had returned to work at least part time. Grounded theory was adapted for analyses.
Results: A single core category emerged: a desire for control: focusing on high-priority issues. Still, 2 years after injury, the participants were uncertain about their abilities with respect to what was expected of them at work. They felt they would do better as time progressed.
Conclusions: The participants' uncertainty about their efficacy cast doubt on their beliefs in improving their skills, balancing daily activities and work. They wondered about the sustainability of their health and efficacy at work. Wanting to control their own improvement, the participants asked for counselling in strategies and techniques to help with their progress. This issue could be taken into account in follow-up rehabilitation programmes. Additionally, the workplace might be the ideal context in which to develop the structures and routines necessary to master life in general.
Implications for rehabilitation: Two years after injury, the participants remained uncertain about their abilities with respect to what was expected of them at work. The participants felt they would do better as time progressed. The participants, wanting to control their own improvement, sought counselling to help sort out their priorities and found it could contribute to help with their progress in finding a suitable balance between daily activities and work. A consequence of our main finding, in a multidisciplinary context, is that counselling in structures and routines with respect to work-related tasks should be considered to be an integral part of any rehabilitation programme after TBI.
Keywords: Life style; return to work; social participation; traumatic brain injury.