Men’s narratives and counter-narratives of burn injury healing

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Thakrar, Sulaye
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Due to medical advances, there has been an increased number of burn survivors, thus creating a dire need for research on burn recovery. As 70% of burn-injured patients are male, it is especially important to examine how men understand healing from a burn injury. One way to explore this is by investigating men’s stories of healing because it is through and by the experiential space of narrative that individuals are provided with the tools to reflect on and find meaning from their experiences of burn injuries. This thesis examined narratives men constructed about healing from a burn injury. Adult men with 0.5 – 30% total body surface area burned were recruited for an in-depth semi-structured interview, two to fifty-two weeks post-injury. Narrative analysis of the transcripts revealed that men principally constructed a dominant narrative that involved wanting to return to a life that was “normal” as soon as possible. I argue that these stories are indicative of a restitution storyline, that is, they follow a plotline in which the men view themselves as being temporarily injured but soon recovered. I then explore how agency, or more specifically, how agentic behaviours facilitate these narratives about men returning to their pre-injury selves. Men also constructed narratives about boredom, grief and regrets at the same time as the restitution narratives. These narratives indicated distress because they were counter to the stories that the men wanted to construct. The discussion contextualizes the men’s restitution narratives in terms of masculine socialization, and considers the role of agency in informing narrative plotlines. Lastly, recommendations to health care providers who treat men that have survived a burn injury are provided.
burn injury, men, masculinity, illness narratives, restitution narratives, counter-narratives, agency, boredom, grief, regrets