Parental coping with paediatric encephalitic brain injury
The literature on encephalitis including its aetiology, prevalence and neuropsychological impact on paediatrics is outlined. This leads on to a critical review of the current literature detailing how parents cope with the impact of paediatric brain injury and chronic illness in children. The need for further qualitative studies examining parental coping with paediatric brain injury is highlighted, along with a call for including the experiences of fathers. This study set out to examine how parents cope with their children's encephalitic acquired brain injury, and whether any differences in coping exist mothers and fathers. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five parents who volunteered through the Encephalitis Society to take part in the study: two spousal couples and a single mother. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed according to the grounded theory method (Charmaz, 2003). Main categories were generated from the analysis and a core category was identified entitled 'Thinking Positively'. A process model of coping was developed. All parents appeared adjusted and were coping when the interviews were conducted. Data analysis revealed gender differences; mothers were seen to be taking on more coping demands and engaging in more problem-solving activities related to their child's brain injury than did the fathers. A consideration of the constraints in interpreting the current findings on the basis of (N=5) is made. Implications for NHS and clinical psychology services in understanding how parents cope are outlined, and ideas for future research suggested. The critical appraisal chronicles the researcher's reflections on the research process. Learning points are outlined and ideas for disseminating research findings suggested.