“We all need employment” – An exploration of the factors which influence the return to work after a severe traumatic brain injury

Claire-Lynn Moller, Thanalutchmy Lingah, Stanford Mandlenkosi Phehlukwayo


Introduction: While individuals with mild and moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) manage to achieve some degree of successful
return-to-work, individuals with severe TBI have a reduced chance of returning to work. This study aimed at investigating how personal
factors, workplace environment and vocational rehabilitation influenced the return-to-work and assumption of the worker role of
individuals with severe TBI.
Method: A phenomenographic study design with purposive sampling was used to select 11 participants. Data were collected through
semi-structured interviews using the Worker Role Interview as a guide. Data were thematically analysed using Clarke and Braun’s
six phases of thematic analysis.
Results: Two themes emerged: It’s all about me, which addressed the internal aspects of the role of a worker and The support for me
which focused the external factors of personal, work and rehabilitative support.
Conclusion: Results showed that rehabilitation, personal factors and work support were critical for successful return-to-work for
survivors of severe TBI. Results indicated that participation in work was as important in developing self-worth as participation in any
other area of daily living. With regard to personal factors, rehabilitation and support were vital in maintaining self-worth after an injury.
This could be enhanced through vocational rehabilitation

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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