Research Reports - Social communication mediates the relationship between emotion perception and externalizing behaviors in young adult survivors of traumatic brain injury

Int J Dev Neurosci. 2013 Oct 15;31(8):811-819

Ryan NP, Anderson V, Godfrey C, Eren S, Rosema S, Taylor K, Catroppa C

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common cause of childhood disability, and is
associated with elevated risk for long-term social impairment. Though social
(pragmatic) communication deficits may be among the most debilitating
consequences of childhood TBI, few studies have examined very long-term
communication outcomes as children with TBI make the transition to young
adulthood. In addition, the extent to which reduced social function contributes
to externalizing behaviors in survivors of childhood TBI remains poorly
understood. The present study aimed to evaluate the extent of social
communication difficulty among young adult survivors of childhood TBI (n=34,
injury age: 1.0-7.0 years; M time since injury: 16.55 years) and examine
relations among aspects of social function including emotion perception, social
communication and externalizing behaviors rated by close-other proxies. Compared
to controls the TBI group had significantly greater social communication
difficulty, which was associated with more frequent externalizing behaviors and
poorer emotion perception. Analyses demonstrated that reduced social
communication mediated the association between poorer emotion perception and more
frequent externalizing behaviors. Our findings indicate that socio-cognitive
impairments may indirectly increase the risk for externalizing behaviors among
young adult survivors of childhood TBI, and underscore the need for targeted
social skills interventions delivered soon after injury, and into the very
long-term.

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