Childhood Trauma and Lifetime Traumatic Brain Injury Among Individuals Who Are Homeless

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To study the association of childhood trauma and lifetime prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among individuals who are homeless.


Cross-sectional survey.


Three cities in British Columbia, Canada.


Five hundred individuals who are homeless and 19 years of age or older in 2009.


Traumatic brain injury was identified with National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC) and childhood trauma using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire—Short Form (CTQ-SF). The relationship between childhood trauma and TBI was explored using multivariable logistic regression approach, adjusting for age, gender, any psychiatric diagnosis (anxiety disorder, mood disorder, psychosis), alcohol dependence, and substance dependence. The effect of number of childhood trauma types on TBI was also explored using multiple variables logistic regression approach adjusting for the same covariates.


The prevalence of TBI was 63.6% and childhood maltreatment was 87.7% among the sample population. During childhood of 487 participants included in the analysis, 57.7% experienced physical abuse, 62.8% physical neglect, 45.8% sexual abuse, 62.4% emotional abuse, and 55.2% emotional neglect. After adjustment, childhood trauma (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.26; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04-5.02), childhood physical abuse (aOR = 2.13; 95% CI, 1.19-3.87; n = 487), and childhood emotional abuse (aOR = 1.95; 95% CI, 1.09-3.51; n = 487) were significantly associated with history of TBI. After adjustment, having 4 different types of childhood trauma (aOR = 2.81; 95% CI, 1.11-7.31) was significantly associated with higher odds of reporting TBI history.


Childhood trauma is significantly associated with lifetime prevalence of TBI in homeless populations in British Columbia, Canada, indicating an added level of vulnerability in this population. In addition, these findings suggest a potential role for childhood trauma prevention strategies and services mindful of the patients' history of trauma for this particularly vulnerable population.

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