Research Reports - Are there gender differences in cognitive function, chronic stress, and neurobehavioral symptoms after mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury?

J Neurosci Nurs. 2012 Jun;44(3):124-33.

Covassin T, Bay E.

ABSTRACT: Research is inconclusive on whether gender differences exist in
cognitive function in persons who sustain a mild-to-moderate traumatic brain
injury (TBI). Furthermore, it is also unclear whether there is a relationship
between chronic stress and cognitive function in these persons. The purpose of
this integrative review is to determine whether gender differences exist in
cognitive function, neurobehavioral symptoms, and chronic stress levels after a
mild-to-moderate TBI. Participants (n = 72) were recruited from eight outpatient
rehabilitation centers. Participants completed the demographic questions, the
Immediate Postconcussion Assessment Cognitive Testing neurocognitive test
battery, the Perceived Stress Scale-14, and the Neurobehavioral Functioning
Inventory (NFI). Gender differences were present on verbal memory composite
scores (p = .033), with women performing worse than men. There were no other
between-gender differences on cognitive tasks, neurobehavioral symptoms, or
chronic stress. Higher chronic stress levels result in a decrease in verbal
memory (p = .015) and motor processing speed (p = .006) and slower reaction time
(p = .007) for women. As male NFI cognition scores increased, motor processing
speed scores decreased (p = .012) and reaction time got slower (p = .019),
whereas women exhibited decreased verbal memory (p = .017) and slower reaction
time (p = .034). As NFI motor symptoms increased, men exhibited decreased verbal
memory (p = .005), visual memory (p = .002), and motor processing speed (p =
.002) and slower reaction time (p = .002). Overall, this study only found gender
differences on verbal memory composite scores, whereas the remaining cognitive
tasks, neurobehavioral symptoms, and chronic stress did not indicate gender
differences. Correlations between chronic stress, neurobehavioral symptoms, and
cognitive function differed in both men and women with TBI. Persons in the
chronic phase of recovery from a TBI may benefit from training in compensatory
strategies for verbal memory deficits and stress management.

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