The pattern of psychological distress in the first 2 years after a severe traumatic brain injury

Diane Randall, Diane Whiting, Matthew Thomas

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


0646 The pattern of psychological distress in the first two years after a severe traumatic brain injury Diane Randall1, Diane Whiting 2, Matthew Thomas1 1School of Psychology, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW, Australia, 2Liverpool Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Liverpool Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia Objectives: Psychological distress is widespread after a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Depression tends to be the predominant presentation, with prevalence rates as high as 53% (Bombardier et al, 2010) in the first year. The pattern and course of this distress is less clear and it is important to identify critical time periods for the development of psychological disorders following TBI in order to provide treatment as early as possible. It has been suggested that emotional distress rises with increases in awareness of impairment at one year and two-three year follow ups. This study will look at the pattern of depression in a cross sectional study in the first two years after a TBI. Method: Archival data was collected from the client files of a specialist brain rehabilitation unit, providing a participant group of 504 (80.4% males, 19.4% females) with an average age of 33.1 years (range 16-71 years). Participants had experienced a severe TBI, with an average posttraumatic amnesia period of 26.8 days (range 1-183). Archival tests had been administered after participants had emerged from PTA.  Additional data collected included a measure of the psychological distress (Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale-21: DASS-21) and demographic data such as time since injury and cultural background. Data was then analysed specifically with relation to changes over time. A smaller sample of participants (N=98) were retested with the DASS-21 between 10 and 26 weeks post injury.   Results: Psychological distress demonstrated significant changes at different time periods where it decreased between months one and two, then gradually increased during the first year with a slight dip at the two year mark (χ2 range of 24.8 – 46.7, p=000). Paired sample t-test demonstrated participants (n=98) showed a significant increase in depression between two different time points range (10-26 weeks) (t=2.62, p<.01) and though an increase was evident on both stress and anxiety, it was not significant.   Conclusions: Psychological distress appears to increase over the first 12 months after a severe TBI with a slight dip at the two year time point. This suggests that early intervention for psychological distress, after emergence from PTA, maybe helpful for individuals after a TBI. Assessing awareness of impairments may further optimise the ideal time for treatment.  
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventTenth World Congress on Brain Injury - Hyatt Embarcadero, San Francisco, United States
Duration: 19 Mar 201422 Mar 2014 (Conference website)


ConferenceTenth World Congress on Brain Injury
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
OtherHeld biennially, IBIA World Congress is the largest gathering of international professionals working in the field of brain injury. Delegates are comprised of physicians, psychologists and neuropsychologists, therapists, social workers, nurses, case managers, legal professionals, advocates and all others working in the field of brain injury. Over 1400 multidisciplinary professionals attended our last Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2012.

The Congress program will feature internationally recognized invited speakers, platform lectures, workshops, short oral presentations and poster sessions. The theme of the congress will be Neurotrauma, Technology, and Neurorehabilitation.

The aim of the Tenth World Congress is to provide an opportunity for establishing collegial relationships with international professionals focused on the care and/or service of persons with acquired brain injury and/or the science of brain injury research. State of the art research will be presented dealing with information spanning from basic science to clinical (coma to community) aspects of brain injury.

Finally, the Congress seeks to provide didactic opportunities for clinicians interested in advancing their knowledge in brain injury science, medicine and care. The official language of the Congress is English, and sessions are open to all delegates registering to attend the event.
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'The pattern of psychological distress in the first 2 years after a severe traumatic brain injury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this