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Common Misconceptions About Traumatic Brain Injury Among Ethnic Minorities With TBI

Pappadis, Monique R. MEd, CHES, CCRP; Sander, Angelle M. PhD; Struchen, Margaret A. PhD; Leung, Patrick PhD; Smith, Dennis W. PhD

The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: July/August 2011 - Volume 26 - Issue 4 - p 301–311
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3181e7832b
Focus on Clinical Research and Practice

Objective: To investigate common TBI misconceptions among ethnic minorities with TBI.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Level I trauma center.

Participants: Fifty-eight persons with TBI (28 black and 30 Hispanic) discharged from the neurosurgery unit and living in the community.

Main Measure: Forty-item Common Misconceptions about Traumatic Brain Injury Questionnaire (CM-TBI).

Results: Participants displayed misconceptions about approximately one-third of the 40 items, most regarding amnesia and recovery. Fewer misconceptions were found in the brain damage/injury and sequelae categories. A greater percentage of TBI misconceptions was associated with having lower education, actively practicing religion, being Spanish-speaking and non-US born. After controlling for education and actively practicing religion, Spanish-speaking Hispanics reported a greater percentage of misconceptions than English-speaking Hispanics and blacks.

Conclusions and Implications: Understanding common TBI misconceptions can assist rehabilitation staff in tailoring education programs for racial/ethnic minorities including those who are Spanish-speaking. Educational attainment and cultural factors should be considered when developing educational interventions for persons with TBI from diverse backgrounds. Inaccurate information regarding TBI, especially the recovery process, may hinder treatment planning by rehabilitation professionals and may result in disappointment and the setting of unrealistic goals for persons with injury and their families.

Brain Injury Research Center, TIRR Memorial Hermann, Houston, Texas (Ms Pappadis and Drs Sander and Struchen); Graduate College of Social Work (Ms Pappadis and Dr Leung), and Department of Health and Human Performance (Dr Smith), University of Houston, Houston, Texas; and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine, Harris County Hospital District, Houston, Texas (Drs Sander and Struchen).

Corresponding Author: Monique R. Pappadis, MEd, CHES, CCRP, Brain Injury Research Center, TIRR Memorial Hermann, 2323 S Shepherd, Ste 907, Houston, TX 77019 (

This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, US Department of Education (grant H133B031117, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Integration in Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury). Special thanks to the patients and staff of Harris County Hospital District, including Drs Shankar Gopinath and Claudia Robertson.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.