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Continuity therapy for couples living with brain injury: A tier 3 study focused on development of an intervention

Trial Status: Open

‘Brain injury’ is a general term for brain damage arising from such things as stroke and head injury. The study tackles two problems that often happen after brain injury: a deterioration in marriages/partnerships, and loss of self-identity and self-esteem experienced by the person with the injury. Previous research suggests that a factor contributing to these problems is a sense of ‘discontinuity’. This refers to the couple feeling that the person with the injury is now very different compared to who s/he was before the injury (“I’ve lost the old-me”) and that their relationship is also radically changed (“I feel like his carer, not his husband”). To address this, we have been developing a psychological therapy for couples focused on increasing their sense of continuity between past and present. In a published report, we described using this therapy with a couple. Following therapy, the couple showed promising improvements in their relationship and wellbeing.
Aims
•To expand and develop this initial version of the therapy, producing detailed guidelines for its use
•To give couples living with brain injury the opportunity to contribute to this development
•To collect information about its potential effectiveness so that we can decide whether the therapy merits further research in the future
Method
Initial guidelines for delivering the therapy will be produced. The therapy will be delivered to 10 couples. The couples and the therapists will be interviewed by an independent member of the research team about their experience of the therapy and ideas for improvement. This feedback will be used by the research team to continually review and update the guidelines. Before and after the therapy, couples will complete questionnaires about continuity, psychological wellbeing and their relationship. The decision whether to continue with further research will depend on whether sufficient improvement is shown.