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Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2019 Mar;29(2):273-288. doi: 10.1080/09602011.2017.1292922. Epub 2017 Mar 8.

A qualitative investigation of sense of self and continuity in younger adults with stroke.

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a School of Applied Psychology and Menzies Health Institute Queensland , Brisbane , Australia.


Younger adults are more likely to survive after stroke and their life trajectory is often disrupted. This qualitative study aimed to explore the experience of sense of self and continuity in younger adults after stroke. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 adults (3 male, 7 female) with stroke onset between 18 and 55 years of age. Their interview transcripts were analysed using a phenomenological approach that involved idiographic and nomothetic stages of analysis. Two major themes emerged: (1) centrality of stroke; and (2) impacts of stroke on self. The first theme relates to how central the stroke is in participants' lives. The second theme depicts ways in which stroke influences participants' sense of self. In general, participants who perceived their stroke as having lower centrality also experienced continuity of self, whereas participants who viewed their stroke as higher in centrality experienced interruption of self which often co-existed with growth of self. However, perceptions of stroke centrality and the impacts on self shifted over time and context. These findings extend conceptualisations of post-stroke adjustment by indicating that the impact of stroke on sense of self during early to middle adulthood is linked to how central people perceive their stroke to be within their life story. Younger adults may simultaneously experience their sense of self as continuous, interrupted, and grown after stroke.


Stroke; qualitative; sense of self; young adults

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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