Family Reintegration Experiences of Soldiers with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury


Name: Kyong Hyatt

Rank: MAJ

Organization: Duke University School of Nursing

Performance Site: Duke University, Durham, NC; Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, NC

Year Published: 2011

Abstract Status: Project Completed


There are limited studies describing the impact of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) symptoms of injured Soldiers’ on post-deployment reintegration into their family, or families’ response to the psychological and physical changes of the returning soldiers with mTBI.  Existing empirical literature indicates the relationship within the family is altered following mTBI and the spouse is most affected by psychological and/or physical changes of the injured spouse (Livingston, 1987).  The purpose of this study is to explore and describe family reintegration processes of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with symptoms of mTBI, and their spouses.  The proposed study will use Strauss and Corbin’s grounded theory methodology to develop an explanatory theory of social processes associated with post-deployment family reintegration challenges post mTBI injury.

A purposive sampling process will be used to recruit married dyads (soldier and spouse).  The primary recruitment site will be the Neurology/TBI Clinic at Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC), Ft. Bragg, North Carolina which has typical U.S. Army combat units.  The primary method for data collection will be face-to-face, semi-structured, open-ended interviews separately for soldier and spouse, as well as a joint interview to determine their shared view of family reintegration.  Married soldiers with PTSD score below 50 (measured with the PCL-M) and/or a depression score less than 11 (measured with the HADS), and their spouse will be recruited.  Soldier-spouse dyads will be continuously recruited until no new mTBI related family reintegration issues are identified in interviews.  Participants also will be asked to complete a demographic questionnaire, a marital adjustment, and a depression & anxiety measure.  In addition, soldiers will be screened with PCL-M.  The researcher will employ constant comparative methods for ongoing refinement of the interview guide and to identify recurrent family reintegration challenges.  Family reintegration themes within cases (soldier and their spouse dyad) and across cases (between dyads) will be identified and validated.  The long-term goal of this research program is to develop evidenced-based intervention program(s) to enhance military nursing care for soldiers with mTBI and their families. 

Relevance: The quality of marital relationship has been shown to have a direct impact on soldier’s mental health and retention.  Data from this study will inform post-deployment soldier reintegration programs by exploring family reintegration difficulties.  This study should contribute to the overall family welfare of the fighting force and improve nursing practice by laying the foundation for development of effective military family support programs.


Final Report available on NTRL: