Family experiences of supporting a relative with agitation during early recovery after traumatic brain injury

Sarah L. Carrier, Jennie Ponsford, Adam McKay

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1 Citation (Scopus)


During the early recovery period after traumatic brain injury (TBI), referred to as post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), approximately 44% of individuals may exhibit agitated behaviours. Agitation can impede recovery and poses a significant management challenge for healthcare services. As families provide significant support for their injured relatives during this time, this study aimed to explore the family’s experience during PTA to better understand their role in agitation management. There were 20 qualitative semi-structured interviews conducted with 24 family members of patients exhibiting agitation during early TBI recovery (75% female, aged 30–71 years), predominantly parents (n = 12), spouses (n = 7) and children (n = 3). The interviews explored the family’s experience of supporting their relative exhibiting agitation during PTA. The interviews were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis, which revealed three key themes: family contributions to patient care, expectations of the health care service and supporting families to support patients. This study emphasized the significant role of families in managing agitation during early TBI recovery and highlighted that families who are well-informed and well-supported have the potential to minimize their relative’s agitation during PTA, which may reduce the burden on healthcare staff and promote patient recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Agitation
  • caregivers
  • families
  • inpatient
  • qualitative research
  • rehabilitation
  • traumatic brain injury

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