Exploring the contextual transition from spinal cord injury rehabilitation to the home environment: a qualitative study

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Study design: Explorative qualitative study based on an interpretative phenomenological approach. Objectives: This study explored the possibility of transferring knowledge and skills from a spinal cord injury (SCI) unit to the home environment; the individual and structural factors that potentially influenced this transfer; and its compatibility with a meaningful everyday life. Setting: Hospital-based rehabilitation unit and community in Denmark. Methods: Fourteen individuals with SCI were selected with maximum variation according to age, sex, marital status, and level of injury. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted in the participants’ homes, 2–10 months after discharge from an SCI unit. Data analysis involved taking an interpretative phenomenological approach combined with a template analysis and applying the transfer of training theory to the discussion. Results: Transitioning from the SCI unit to the home environment involved a multidimensional change of context in which most of the participants’ previous life roles had changed. This overarching theme had a decisive influence on: balancing loss and acceptance, facing external structural barriers, and the strength of social relationships when the knowledge and skills acquired at the unit were applied in a meaningful everyday life. Conclusions: Transition from the SCI unit to the home environment is influenced by a multidimensional change of context that may restrict the use of acquired skills post-discharge, provide distant prospects for tertiary health promotion, and aggravate the experience of loss in people with SCI. Maintaining relationships is a strong mediator for transferring skills and re-establishing a meaningful everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)336-346
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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