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Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation:
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e31827eabba
Original Articles

Anxiety Sensitivity and Alexithymia as Mediators of Postconcussion Syndrome Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Wood, Rodger Ll. PhD; O'Hagan, Geraldine MSc; Williams, Claire PhD; McCabe, Michael FRCS; Chadwick, Nicole MSc

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine the influence of anxiety sensitivity (AS) and alexithymia as potential mediators for the development of psychological distress and postconcussion syndrome after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

Participants:

Sixty-one patients with mTBI assessed at a mean of 2.38 weeks after injury and demographically matched healthy controls (n = 61).

Measures:

Twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Anxiety Sensitivity Index, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Rivermead Post Concussion Questionnaire.

Results:

The mTBI group reported significantly higher levels of AS, alexithymia, psychological distress, and postconcussion (PC) symptom scores than controls. High AS and alexithymia in the mTBI group were associated with a greater number of PC symptoms and higher levels of psychological distress than patients scoring low on these measures and controls. In the mTBI group, a combination of AS and low mood explained 52.6% of the variance in PC symptom reporting. A combination of trait-anxiety, alexithymia, and PC symptoms explained 77.2% of the variance in levels of mood.

Conclusion:

A combination of low mood and high AS may act as a psychological diathesis for the development of persisting PC symptoms. Early identification could provide a focus for early intervention to prevent the development of postconcussion syndrome after mTBI.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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