What we can learn from mismatched and unexpected responses to questions in interviews with people who have traumatic brain injury?


  • Boyd H. Davis University of North Carolina
  • Margaret Maclagan University of Canterbury, Christchurch
  • Pamela Ferguson Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
  • Charlene Pope Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston
  • Jama L. Olsen Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
  • Samir M. Fakhry Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston




Narrative, Traumatic Brain Injury


This article analyses mismatched and unexpected responses to questions in a survey administered to thirteen people with traumatic brain injury or their relatives. Rather than giving simple one word or yes-no answers, the respondents provided unexpected narrative answers that went beyond the scope of the survey questions. The analysis identifies the types of narratives used by the respondents and highlights the ways in which they expressed their concerns about their life post-injury. It ends with a plea for more information to be provided to patients and their relatives about the ‘new normal’ life after a traumatic brain injury.

Author Biographies

Boyd H. Davis, University of North Carolina

Dr Boyd Davis is Cone Professor of Teaching and Professor of Applied Linguistics at UNC-Charlotte. She studies narrative, pragmatics and stance in discourse, incorporating sociohistorical approaches to medical discourse and Alzheimer’s talk, lifespan language, and digital corpora of speech.

Margaret Maclagan, University of Canterbury, Christchurch

Dr Margaret Maclagan is a retired professor of Communication Disorders at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She studies language change over time, including sound change in Maori and language change in people with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Pamela Ferguson, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston

Pamela Ferguson, PhD, is a trauma epidemiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina with a background as an emergency department nurse in a Level I trauma center, and has worked on numerous studies on traumatic brain injury and on outcomes.

Charlene Pope, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston

Dr Charlene Pope serves as the Chief Nurse for Research at the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, and research associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Department of Pediatrics and Center for Health Disparities Research in Charleston, South Carolina. Trained as a sociolinguist, she studies health disparities and variations in communication health services research.

Jama L. Olsen, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston

Jama Olsen has a Master of Public Administration and Policy and has experience in behavioural research, interviewing, and research administration.

Samir M. Fakhry, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston

Samir M. Fakhry MD FACS is Charles F. Crews Professor of Surgery and Director, Trauma and Acute Care Research at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston SC. He is a practising trauma surgeon with diverse interests in injury research.


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How to Cite

Davis, B., Maclagan, M., Ferguson, P., Pope, C., Olsen, J., & Fakhry, S. (2018). What we can learn from mismatched and unexpected responses to questions in interviews with people who have traumatic brain injury?. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 8(2), 183–219. https://doi.org/10.1558/jircd.34129




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