A conceptual model of irritability following traumatic brain injury: A qualitative, participatory research study

Flora Hammond, Christine Davis, James R. Cook, Peggy Philbrick, Mark A. Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Individuals with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) may have chronic problems with irritability, which can negatively affect their lives. Objectives: (1) To describe the experience (thoughts and feelings) of irritability from the perspectives of multiple people living with or affected by the problem, and (2) to develop a conceptual model of irritability. Design: Qualitative, participatory research. Participants: Forty-four stakeholders (individuals with a history of TBI, family members, community professionals, healthcare providers, and researchers) divided into 5 focus groups. Procedures: Each group met 10 times to discuss the experience of irritability following TBI. Data were coded using grounded theory to develop themes, metacodes, and theories. Measures: Not applicable. Results: A conceptual model emerged in which irritability has 5 dimensions: affective (related to moods and feelings); behavioral (especially in areas of self-regulation, impulse control, and time management); cognitive-perceptual (self-talk and ways of seeing the world); relational issues (interpersonal and family dynamics); and environmental (including environmental stimuli, change, disruptions in routine, and cultural expectations). Conclusions: This multidimensional model provides a framework for assessment, treatment, and future research aimed at better understanding irritability, as well as the development of assessment tools and treatment interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1-E11
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2016


  • Aggression
  • Behavior
  • Brain injury
  • Irritability
  • Participatory research
  • Qualitative research
  • Translational research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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