Lived experiences of work injuries : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology (Health Endorsement) at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Work injuries have been increasing significantly globally, and work injury research
has largely involved scientific research seeking associations between work injuries
and direct and indirect costs. However, little research has been directed at the
experience of the injured worker. A phenomenological approach was used in this
research to gain insight and understand the lived experience of work injuries.
Phenomenology was utilised because it allows for examination of experience, and
was an approach that could provide insights into how work injuries were
experienced. In this study, five people who had sustained work injuries and who
were off work for at least two months due to their injuries participated and completed
semi-structured interviews. Data were transcribed and analysed. The lived
experience of work injuries is described in terms of trauma, broken body,
communication, relationships, and coping. These themes elucidate the context of
work injuries as embodied experiences. Findings suggest that work injuries are
experienced as very traumatic and harrowing. The participants found it difficult to
navigate the world through their broken bodies after sustaining the work injury.
Through these broken bodies, the participants experienced humiliation shame,
inferiority, and they felt as if they were losing control over managing their injuries.
Many stakeholders were involved with the participants in order to create plans to
return to work (RTW) and rehabilitation. The sheer amount of people involved in the
rehabilitation made communication difficult at times. The participants and their
families’ lives changed radically as a result of the work injuries, and it contributed to
difficulties in relationships. While the work injuries disrupted the injured worker's
lives, they worked through these difficulties by using different strategies to cope.
Navigating the world with broken bodies after work injuries, are traumatic, and
rehabilitation is complex and multifaceted.