Clinician reports of self-awareness after traumatic brain injury: a retrospective chart review

BMC Health Serv Res. 2022 Sep 6;22(1):1124. doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-08444-x.


Background: Impaired self-awareness (i.e., a lack of insight) is experienced by most individuals who have sustained a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). During the early recovery period post-injury, these individuals may not be able to recognize their abilities and limitations, hence, negatively impacting their daily life and function. Although there are assessments and interventions to improve self-awareness after TBI, little is known about how clinicians assess and address this impairment in an inpatient rehabilitation setting.

Objective: To examine how clinicians assess, report, and provide interventions for impaired self-awareness after TBI.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted on interdisciplinary rehabilitation clinician entries for individuals with TBI (n = 67) who received inpatient rehabilitation within a five-year period (2014-2019). A reflexive thematic analysis was used to identify themes pertaining to self-awareness.

Results: Three themes were generated to explore clinician responses to their clients' impaired self-awareness: 1) 'recalling and understanding' described clinician observations of client behaviors and expressions of self-awareness, 2) 'applying and analyzing' identified clinicians providing relevant tasks and advice to clients, and 3) 'evaluating and creating' described clinicians actively interacting with clients by providing feedback, guided prompts, and a follow-up plan.

Conclusion: Clinicians produced varied responses to clients' impaired self-awareness after TBI. Findings may help to develop research priorities and integrated knowledge translation initiatives to increase evidence-based practice for impaired self-awareness after TBI.

Keywords: Chart review; Occupational therapy; Self-awareness; Traumatic brain injury.

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Brain Injuries* / rehabilitation
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic*
  • Humans
  • Perception
  • Retrospective Studies