Objective: To test whether improved functional status correlates with more depressive symptoms after traumatic brain injury(TBI). This is based on the concept that increasing awareness of deficits may exacerbate depression, even while survivors are making functional improvements.
Participants: A total of 471 individuals with TBI (72% white; 71% men; median Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score = 11) enrolled during acute care or inpatient rehabilitation and followed up at a median of 6 months.
Main Measure: Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended, and Functional Status Examination (FSE).
Results: We found significant Spearman rank order correlations between BDI-II scores and the total FSE as well as all domains of the FSE. Lower functional levels correlated with more depressive symptoms. Modeling of predictive factors, including subject characteristics, injury-related characteristics, and outcome measures, resulted in 2 models, both containing age and GCS along with other factors.
Conclusion: The relation between depressive symptoms and functional outcomes is complex and a fertile area for further research. The authors would encourage clinicians to monitor patients for depressive symptoms to help to prevent the detrimental impact on recovery.