Post-traumatic stress disorder and self-reported outcomes after traumatic brain injury in victims of assault

Bown, Dominic, Belli, Antonio, Qureshi, Kasim, Davies, David, Toman, Emma and Upthegrove, Rachel (2019) Post-traumatic stress disorder and self-reported outcomes after traumatic brain injury in victims of assault. PLOS ONE, 14 (2). e0211684.

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Introduction Assault is the third most common cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI), after falls and road traffic collisions. TBI can lead to multiple long-term physical, cognitive and emotional sequelae, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Intentional violence may further compound the psychological trauma of the event, in a way that conventional outcome measures, like the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS), fail to capture. This study aims to examine the influence of assault on self-reported outcomes, including quality of life and symptoms of PTSD. Methods Questionnaire were completed by 256 patients attending a TBI clinic, including Quality of Life after Brain Injury (QOLIBRI) and PTSD checklist (PCL-C). Medical records provided demographics, clinical data and aetiology of injury. Subjective outcomes were compared between assault and other causes. Results Of 202 patients analysed, 21% sustained TBI from assault. There was no difference in severity of injuries between assault and non-assault groups. No relationship was found between self-reported outcomes and TBI severity or GOS. The assault group scored worse in all self-reported questionnaires, with statistically significant differences for measures of PTSD and post-concussion symptoms. However, using threshold scores, the prevalence of PTSD in assaulted patients was not higher than non-assault. After adjusting for age, ethnicity and the presence of extra-cranial trauma, assault did not have a significant effect on questionnaire scores. Exploratory analysis showed that assault and road traffic accidents were associated with significantly worse outcomes compared to falls. Conclusion Quality of life is significantly related to functional and psychological outcomes after TBI. Assaulted patients suffer from worse self-reported outcomes than other patients, but these differences were insignificant when adjusted for demographic factors. Intentionality behind the traumatic event is likely more important than cause alone. Differences in quality of life and other self-reported outcomes are not reflected by the Glasgow Outcome Scale. This information is useful in arranging earlier and targeted review and support.

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