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Life Interrupted: The Trauma Caregiver Experience

Traumatic injury frequently leads to an abrupt change in physical and psychological functioning; informal caregivers play a significant role in the recovery process in the hospital and at home. The purpose of this study was to describe the range of stressors and burdens experienced by orthopedic trauma family caregivers in the acute care setting, as well as responses and strategies employed. Qualitative, in-depth interviews were conducted in the hospital with 12 family caregivers of severely injured orthopedic trauma patients. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed to identify the range of experiences and common themes. Data were organized into 4 categories: stressors and needs; barriers; resources; and response. Stressors and barriers included the confusion and turmoil of life in the hospital, exposure to tragedy, difficulty obtaining and understanding information, and a sense that the family was not considered an integral part of the care plan. Factors influencing caregiver coping included access to the patient, provider communication, caregiver internal and external resources, and the presence of staff assisting in negotiation of the complex and unfamiliar hospital system. Understanding the caregiver experience enables nursing providers to build trust and offer effective support and guidance; caregiver-centered systems of information from admission to discharge may facilitate adaptation and improved caregiving.

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
Walters Kluwer Health inc
Publication Year
Issue Number
Journal Titles
Journal of Trauma Nursing
Volume Number
Start Page
End Page