Research Reports - Prevalence of anxiety following adult traumatic brain injury

Neuropsychology. 2015 Jul 6

Osborn AJ, Mathias JL, Fairweather-Schmidt AK

OBJECTIVE: Anxiety following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common problem;
however, disparate prevalence estimates limit the clinical utility of research.
The purpose of the current study was to examine how differences in methodological
variables and sample characteristics impact on the prevalence of anxiety.
METHOD: Data from 41 studies that examined either the prevalence of generalized
anxiety disorder (GAD) diagnoses or clinically significant "cases" of
self-reported anxiety following adult, nonpenetrating TBI were analyzed, and the
impact of diagnostic criteria, measure, postinjury interval and injury severity
was evaluated.
RESULTS: Overall, 11% of people were diagnosed with GAD and 37% reported
clinically significant levels of anxiety following TBI. Prevalence estimates
varied for different diagnostic criteria (range: 2%-19%), interview schedules
(range: 2%-28%), and self-report measures (range: 36%-50%). GAD and "cases" of
anxiety were most prevalent 2 to 5 years postinjury. The rates of GAD increased
with injury severity (mild: 11%, severe 15%), but "cases" decreased (mild: 53%,
severe: 38%), although neither difference was significant.
CONCLUSIONS: Anxiety is common after a TBI and ongoing monitoring and treatment
should be provided. Methodological and sample characteristics should be clear and
well-defined, as differences across studies (e.g., how anxiety is conceptualized,
which measure is used, time since injury, injury severity) impact prevalence
rates.

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