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Sex differences in outcomes from mild traumatic brain injury eight years post-injury.

The long-term effects of mild TBI (mTBI) are not well understood, and there is an ongoing debate about whether there are sex differences in outcomes following mTBI. This study examined i) symptom burden and functional outcomes at 8-years post-injury in males and females following mTBI; ii) sex differences in outcomes at 8-years post-injury for those aged <45 years and ≥45 years and; iii) sex differences in outcomes for single and repetitive TBI. Adults (≥16 years at injury) identified as part of a population-based TBI incidence study (BIONIC) who experienced mTBI 8-years ago (N = 151) and a TBI-free sample (N = 151) completed self-report measures of symptoms and symptom burden (Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptom Questionnaire, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist), and functional outcomes (Participation Assessments with Recombined Tools, Work Limitations Questionnaire). The mTBI group reported significantly greater post-concussion symptoms compared to the TBI-free group (F(1,298) = 26.84, p<.01, ηp2 = .08). Females with mTBI were twice as likely to exceed clinical cut-offs for post-concussive (X2 (1)>5.2, p<.05, V>.19) and PTSD symptoms (X2(1) = 6.10, p = .014, V = .20) compared to the other groups, and reported their health had the greatest impact on time-related work demands (F(1,171) = 4.36, p = .04, ηp2 = .03. There was no interaction between sex and age on outcomes. The repetitive mTBI group reported significantly greater post-concussion symptoms (F(1,147) = 9.80, p<.01, ηp2 = .06) compared to the single mTBI group. Twice the proportion of women with repetitive mTBI exceeded the clinical cut-offs for post-concussive (X2(1)>6.90, p<.01, V>.30), anxiety (X2(1)>3.95, p<.05, V>.23) and PTSD symptoms (X2(1)>5.11, p<.02, V>.26) compared with males with repetitive TBI or women with single TBI. Thus, at 8-years post-mTBI, people continued to report a high symptom burden. Women with mTBI, particularly those with a history of repetitive mTBI, had the greatest symptom burden and were most likely to have symptoms of clinical significance. When treating mTBI it is important to assess TBI history, particularly in women. This may help identify those at greatest risk of poor long-term outcomes to direct early treatment and intervention.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
© 2022 Starkey et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.