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School of Health Sciences

Dating after brain injury: what people with brain injury want and how to assess

Supervisors

1st supervisor: Prof Katerina Hilari

2nd supervisor: Dr Nick Behn

Research centre

Language and Communication Science Research

Project description

People with brain injury consider relationships and finding someone to love as important to them in their lives post-injury.  However, helping a person find love is not often a goal set by rehabilitation professionals. People have problems with intimacy, interpersonal communication and sexual performance following their injury.  These problems can make it difficult to find and maintain a relationship. The art of dating and finding love is complex requiring a deep understanding of the verbal and non-verbal nuances of social interaction, often impaired after a brain injury.  Recent advances in technology (e.g. mobile phones, computers) and the rise of social media platforms (e.g. social network sites, dating sites, apps) means that an understanding of written communication is also needed to date successfully.  Earlier studies have examined dating behaviours and interventions for people with and without disabilities, but dating has not been explored in-depth with people with brain injury and there is little information on how to assess and measure the success of potential interventions in this area.

The proposed PhD: This study will examine what people with brain injury want from dating and being in a relationship and explore measurement outcomes. The first part of this study will involve a literature review of dating in people with and without disabilities (including brain injury). More specifically: skills required for dating, how to measure dating behaviours, and any interventions that have been published in the area. The second part of the study will involve qualitative interviews with ~20-30 people with brain injury who have expressed an interest in dating. The interviews will explore the importance of dating for them, ways in which they have approached dating, common challenges they have encountered, and how these have been overcome. The final part of the study will involve the testing of ~60 people with brain injury on dating outcomes alongside wider outcomes that address social participation and well-being. The results of this study will lay the foundation for a pilot study of a dating intervention for people with brain injury.

Supervisory Team: The named team represents expertise in psychosocial effects and communication disorders after brain injury. Leanne Togher (University of Sydney, Australia) is an Honorary Professor in Communication Disorders after Brain Injury at City will also be consulted on this project. No Speech & Language Therapy Department within a UK university has a strong research profile for brain injury (non-stroke) so this application aims to establish this profile at City over the next 5-10 years.

Potential for a field of strong candidates: LCS has a strong track record of attracting successful PhD candidates, including in the past few years two candidates (one PhD, one MRES) pursuing research in the field of brain injury (non-stroke). This proposal may be of interest to SLTs or psychologists in the field considering a PhD, recent SLT or Psychology graduates or students completing MScs in health professions.

If you would like to have an informal discussion please contact K.Hilari@city.ac.uk.