The complexity of participation in daily life: A qualitative study of the experiences of persons with acquired brain injury
Anna Häggström, Maria Larsson Lund
Objective: To describe and enhance the understanding of how adults with acquired brain injury experience participation in daily life.
Patients and methods: Qualitative interviews with 11 persons of working age with acquired brain injuries were analysed using qualitative content analysis.
Results: The informants’ experiences formed 5 categories: “Performing tasks”; “Making decisions and exerting influence”; “Being engaged in meaningful activities”; “Doing things for others”; and “Belonging”. The categories that needed to be present for the informants to experience a feeling of participation varied according to their individual daily life situations. In addition, their experiences showed that a variety of conditions, related to each of the 5 categories, influenced their participation. Individuals adopted a variety of strategies to enhance their experience of participation.
Conclusion: The meaning of participation and the conditions and strategies influencing participation are complex. Many of the categories identified for participation can be understood only through subjective experience and cannot be captured by professionals’ observation of the performance of activities. These results emphasize the importance of considering clients’ unique experiences of participation when designing individually tailored rehabilitation programmes intended to enhance participation.