All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Karen Heaton

Advisory Committee Members

Laura Dreer

Thomas Novack

David E Vance

Gwendolyn Childs

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Nursing


Introduction: Recent estimates suggest that as many as half of all survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may be experience sleep disturbances or disorders. Although quantitative research has resulted in a greater understanding of the prevalence, symptomology, and conditions associated with sleep, little is known regarding the sleep experiences of survivors of moderate-severe TBI, after their discharge from inpatient rehabilitation. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to describe the sleep experiences of adults with moderate-severe TBI after rehabilitation. Methods: Qualitative descriptive inquiry was used to explore and describe sleep experiences of survivors of moderate-severe traumatic brain injury TBI between one and 4 years post injury. Sixteen survivors (N = 16) were recruited from a previous TBI study at UAB. Demographic and injury data was obtained through Traumatic Brain Injury Module Systems (TBIMS) data. Interview data was analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: The thematic analysis yielded five themes that cumulatively contribute to a description of sleep experiences following moderate-severe traumatic brain injury: 1) problems with sleep; 2) perceived impact of sleep and fatigue on relationships and work; 3) learning to manage; 4) coping; and 5) resources. Conclusions: This study provides the first description of sleep experiences of survivors of moderate-severe TBI in a primarily non-veteran sample in the United States. Implications for research and practice are provided. The study confirms and extends some elements of previous research of sleep in survivors of TBI but also adds new knowledge by highlighting previously unidentified sleep management strategies, coping strategies for impaired sleep, and preferences for sleep-related resources. Implications for practice include the need for a supportive transition from rehabilitation to community dwelling and continued education and screening throughout recovery following TBI. It is likely that a multitude of factors influence the sleep experiences and subsequent outcomes of survivors of moderate-severe TBI; future research should continue to explore the multifaceted nature of sleep in addition to the interplay between sleep and other comorbidities following TBI such as depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or memory impairment.

Included in

Nursing Commons



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