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Grief and Loss Among Veterans With Spinal Cord Injury: A Qualitative Study.

Burkhart L, Kale IO, LaVela SL. Grief and Loss Among Veterans With Spinal Cord Injury: A Qualitative Study. Rehabilitation Nursing : The Official Journal of The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. 2021 Sep 1; 46(5):270-278.

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PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to understand veteran perspectives of grief/loss associated with their spinal cord injury (SCI). DESIGN/METHODS: Qualitative descriptive design using semistructured interviews with veterans with SCI (n = 15) was performed using interview questions informed by the literature. Analysis was conducted using a deductive/inductive approach. RESULTS: The 15 participants' mean age was 64 years; six had paraplegia, eight had tetraplegia, one had unknown level of injury, six were ambulatory, and nine were not ambulatory. The grief/loss experience was individual and constant, consisting of seven phases: experiencing shock, releasing emotion, withdrawing, focusing on losses, problem solving, realizing strength and motivation, and accepting a new life. Veteran coping strategies used in each phase of the grief experience were also identified, as well as triggers that increased or decreased the grief/loss experience. CONCLUSIONS/CLINICAL RELEVANCE: A better understanding of veterans living with SCI grief experience, coping strategies, and triggering events can help healthcare providers support veterans with SCI.

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