How Partners Experience Personality Change after Traumatic Brain Injury-Its Impact on Their Emotions and their Relationship

Sarah E M Bodley-Scott, Gerard Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
354 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: The aim of this qualitative study was to explore how spouses/partners experience social, emotional and behavioural changes in persons following traumatic brain injury (TBI), with a particular focus on their emotional impact and the effect on the couple relationship. Method: Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) of interview data explored five women's experiences of these changes in their partners following TBI. Results: Themes describe the direct emotional impact of living with the changes as well as the emotional impact of attempts to manage and make sense of the changes (identity change, managing the changes and making sense of the changes). The impact on the couple relationship is described under the themes of feeling love and receiving love. Changes led three of the participants to experience their partner as having been replaced by a new person; they actively disliked this new person; they felt unable to love the new person in the same way as the old person; and their love was defined in terms of a caring relationship, rather than a spousal relationship. Conclusions: The study provides insight into why social, emotional and behavioural changes might be so consistently associated with reduced emotional wellbeing and lower levels of relationship quality and satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-220
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Impairment
Issue number3
Early online date20 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • couple relationship
  • neurobehavioural changes
  • personality changes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'How Partners Experience Personality Change after Traumatic Brain Injury-Its Impact on Their Emotions and their Relationship'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this