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Anxiety Disorders in Adults With Childhood Traumatic Brain Injury: Evidence of Difficulties More Than 10 Years Postinjury

Albicini, Michelle, BPSych Hons; McKinlay, Audrey, A.Dip Clin Psyc, PhD

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: May/June 2018 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 191–199
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000312
Original Articles
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Objective: To explore long-term psychiatric outcomes in individuals with a history of childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI) or orthopedic injury (OI).

Setting: Hospital emergency department, medical admission records and outpatient settings.

Participants: There were 95 males (M = 22.78 years, SD = 3.44 years) and 74 females (M = 22.27 years, SD = 3.09 years), 65 with mild TBI (M = 23.25 years, SD = 3.58 years), 61 with moderate-severe TBI (M = 22.34 years, SD = 2.79 years), and 43 with OI (M = 21.81 years, SD = 3.36 years).

Design: Longitudinal, between-subjects, cross-sectional design using retrospective and current data.

Main Measures: Semistructured interview to obtain psychiatric diagnoses and background information, and medical records for identification of TBI.

Results: Group with moderate-severe TBI presented with significantly higher rates of any anxiety disorder (χ22 = 6.81, P = .03) and comorbid anxiety disorder (χ22 = 6.12, P < .05). Group with overall TBI presented with significantly higher rates of any anxiety disorder (χ21 = 5.36, P = .02), panic attacks (χ21 = 4.43, P = .04), specific phobias (χ21 = 4.17, P = .04), and depression (χ21 = 3.98, P < .05). Prediction analysis revealed a statistically significant model (χ27 = 41.84, P < .001) explaining 23% to 37% of the variance in having any anxiety disorder, with significant predictors being group (TBI) and gender (female).

Conclusions: Children who have sustained a TBI may be vulnerable to persistent anxiety, panic attacks, specific phobias, and depression, even 13 years after the injury event.

School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Clayton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Ms Albicini); and Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Dr McKinlay).

Corresponding Author: Michelle Albicini, BPSych Hons, School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Wellington Rd, Clayton, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia (michelle.albicini@monash.edu).

The study was part of a larger study that was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Health Research Council/Accident Compensation Corporation of New Zealand.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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