Explore the incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in veterans seeking outpatient substance abuse treatment and the association between TBI and psychiatric diagnoses.
The Ohio State University TBI identification method (OSU TBI-ID) was administered to veterans with positive TBI-4 screens; substance-related and psychiatric diagnoses were extracted from the medical record.
Over an 18-month period, 247 veterans completed the TBI-4. Of the 136 who screened positive, 70 were administered the OSU TBI-ID.
On the basis of the TBI-4, 55% (95% CI: 49%–61%) of veterans screened positive for a history of TBI. The OSU TBI-ID was used to confirm screening results. Those who completed the OSU TBI-ID sustained an average of 3.4 lifetime TBIs. For each additional TBI sustained, after initial injury, there was an estimated 9% increase in the number of psychiatric diagnoses documented (99% CI: 1%–17%). For each additional documented psychiatric diagnosis, there was an estimated increase of 11% in the number of injuries sustained (99% CI: 1%–22%). Also, 54% (38/70) had a positive history of TBI prior to adulthood.
These results emphasize the need for TBI screening in this vulnerable population, as well as the importance of increasing brain injury awareness among those abusing substances and their care providers. These findings also highlight the need for specialized services for those with TBI and co-occurring substance misuse aimed at decreased future TBIs or negative psychiatric outcomes or both. Further study is needed to clarify best practices.