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

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Abstract

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.

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