Patients' Experiences of Their Recovery Process After Minor Physical Trauma

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Abstract

Injuries due to trauma are the leading cause of death in Sweden among people younger than 45 years, and more than 120,000 patients were admitted to hospitals in 2014 as a result of trauma. Patients suffering from less serious physical trauma are often discharged directly from the trauma unit, commonly without any follow-up plans. There is a lack of knowledge about how these patients experience their recovery process.

Eight women and 6 men were interviewed 3 months after being directly discharged from a trauma unit. Data were analyzed using the constructive grounded theory approach.

The main finding was the core category of social support, the key to recovery. Patients' roads to recapturing their health and to recovery had several barriers, which can be clustered together to either physical or psychological symptoms that enhanced their feelings of ill health and delayed their recovery. Participants described different strategies that they used to deal with these barriers. Most important was the support of others, that is, family, social life, work, and health care (primary health care).

The participants in this study described managing the recovery process by themselves as troublesome. This is partly because they do not view themselves as healthy, as the health care providers do, and many are in need of further health care after discharge. Health care providers should give better information on the expected process of recovery and the importance of social support, as it might enable patients to better overcome physical and psychological barriers in their recovery.

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