The Effect of Education Type on Common Misconceptions of Traumatic Brain Injury

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Purpose: In the current study, we investigated the effects of existing education materials—either a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) factsheet or personal stories of people with TBI—on undergraduate students’ misconceptions and attributions about the causes of TBI-related behavior. Method: Undergraduate students (N = 164) were recruited through the university participant pool. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either a factsheet about TBI, personal stories of people with TBI, or a control reading. Groups were compared on the number of TBI misconceptions endorsed, scores on an attribution measure, and their willingness to interact with people who have TBIs. Results: Both the TBI factsheet group and the personal stories group endorsed fewer misconceptions, on average, than the control group (p = .02). Additionally, those who read either the personal stories or the factsheet had significantly lower attribution scores, on average, than the control group (p = .001; p = .03). That is, those who read either of the educational materials were more likely to endorse a TBI explanation over an adolescent explanation, compared to those who read a control reading. The groups did not significantly differ on their willingness for social interaction. Implications: Results suggest that, on average, factsheets and personal stories are effective for increasing knowledge about moderate-to-severe TBI as compared to a control group. Personal stories and factsheets may also be useful, on average, for addressing tendencies to discount TBIs as explanations for behavioral change, as compared to a control group.

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