• trauma;
  • hand injury;
  • psychological stress;
  • stress factors;
  • health care;
  • health services research

A qualitative study of stress factors in the early stage of acute traumatic hand injury

The aim of the study reported in this paper was to identify stress factors in the early stage of acute traumatic hand injury. Stress factors were defined as circumstances which the hand-injured patients experienced as problems in the actual situation. A total of 20 patients, treated as inpatients at the Department of Hand Surgery in Örebro Medical Centre Hospital, Sweden, were interviewed 8–20 days after the day of the accident. The analyses of the interviews followed the first step in the analytical process described in a modified model of grounded theory. The trauma experience was one of the stress factors in the early stage. Single acute traumatic stress symptoms, mostly involuntary recollection and re-experience of the trauma, were found in a fourth of the hand-injured patients. All patients reported impaired functioning caused by their hand, irrespective of injury. Practical problems with daily activities and being dependent on help from others for solving practical problems were stress factors caused by functional impairment. Before the accident most of the hand-injured had been very active, also working a lot with their hands in their leisure-time. Involuntary inactivity was a big problem for some of them. Other stress factors in the early stage were uncertainty about function in the future and pain. The appearance of the hand was a minor problem before the first follow-up visit. Probably because the hand was hidden in a bandage. However, some hand-injured felt discomfort in seeing the hand when the dressing was changed at the first follow-up visit.