This case study focuses on a small qualitative study that explored experiences of young higher functioning survivors of stroke in re-establishing identity and resuming employment. It was peer research as the student researcher who carried out the project is a young stroke survivor herself. The research falls within the tradition of critical social research and is underpinned by critical social work theory. In keeping with these approaches, the research was grounded in people's everyday experiences and had a strong political intention to contribute to change to improve the lives of young stroke survivors. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five young stroke survivors. Barbara disclosed her stroke to participants during pre-interview screening and project discussion, generally in response to the question as to why she chose to research in the area of young stroke. This had the effect of building an easy rapport between researcher and participant. This Social Work Honors research project was slightly ahead of the current drive for diversity and innovation within the research sector. However, this peer research demonstrates the benefit of health diversity in researchers as well as participants. It illustrates engagement and comfort in discussing health-related challenges. The combination of applied professional and academic expertise along with unique experiential expertise is both striking and dramatic, potentially contributing to research innovation within the medical and health sciences sectors. Since completing the research, Barbara has continued to work for greater recognition of the rehabilitation needs of young stroke survivors.
A Small Qualitative Peer Research Project Exploring the Return-to-Work Experiences of Young Stroke Survivors