MPhil (Nursing) candidate
Rebekah is the Trauma Coordinator at The Canberra Hospital and has 13 years emergency nursing and trauma experience, including Clinical Nurse Consultancy and Education. She has completed a Master of Nursing through the University of Sydney attaining the 2004 Elsevier Australia Prize for Critical Care. She has also completed a Master of Nursing – Nurse Practitioner (Trauma & Retrieval) through the University of Newcastle, graduating in 2009 with Merit.
Life-threatening injury in young people: incidence and elucidation
Supervisors: Associate Professor Kim Foster & Clinical Associate Professor Kate Curtis
Injury is the leading cause of death in young people aged 12–24 years in Australia, with prevalence rates higher in this age demographic than in any other; injury related death and hospitalisation rates are also higher than for any age group other than those over 75 years (1,2). In 2007/08 alone, injury as the primary diagnosis for hospital admission accounted for 422, 661 admissions nationally (3). Despite representing such a major public health liability, little is known regarding long term outcomes following life threatening traumatic injury in young people, and even less is known about the actual incidence and burden of deliberate self inflicted injury and the consequences of survival.
The predominance of world wide research examining long term outcomes of physical injury has been quantitative in nature and directed at the measurement of physical functioning (4,5,6). Of those studies specifically examining long-term outcomes in the young person population, results indicate profound and prolonged functional deficits in participants up to two years following their injuries, reflecting an enormous long term personal, health and economic burden (7). This indicates a substantial gap within injury research which may hold the key to effective injury prevention strategies, therefore further analysis of the complex relationships surrounding injury in young people, including intentional injury, as well as the individuals’ own lived experience is required.
In order to strengthen current trauma outcome research, this study will use a mixed methods approach to not only examine reported nature and prevalence of those admitted to an Australian Major Trauma Service (MTS), but will also be informed by phenomenological thought in order to bring forth the lived meaning of surviving a life threatening injury as a young person, be it accidental or intentional.
The living body is not reducible to mere flesh and bone, or to detached skills which are meaningless in the absence of a coordinated commitment; consciousness cannot be separated from the world of human existence (10). Therefore given what is currently known regarding long term outcomes, as well as the personal, health and economic burden, this study will elucidate if, through surviving their injuries, the injured young persons’ view on the world and their place within it is changed. For unless we are able to attach meaning to the events that impact an individual’s life, we are powerless to assist in making the transition from pre to post injury being.