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Retrospective self-report is typically used for diagnosing previous pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI). A new semi-structured interview instrument (New Mexico Assessment of Pediatric TBI; NewMAP TBI) investigated test–retest reliability for TBI characteristics in both the TBI that qualified for study inclusion and for lifetime history of TBI.
One-hundred and eight-four mTBI (aged 8–18), 156 matched healthy controls (HC), and their parents completed the NewMAP TBI within 11 days (subacute; SA) and 4 months (early chronic; EC) of injury, with a subset returning at 1 year (late chronic; LC).
The test–retest reliability of common TBI characteristics [loss of consciousness (LOC), post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), retrograde amnesia, confusion/disorientation] and post-concussion symptoms (PCS) were examined across study visits. Aside from PTA, binary reporting (present/absent) for all TBI characteristics exhibited acceptable (≥0.60) test–retest reliability for both Qualifying and Remote TBIs across all three visits. In contrast, reliability for continuous data (exact duration) was generally unacceptable, with LOC and PCS meeting acceptable criteria at only half of the assessments. Transforming continuous self-report ratings into discrete categories based on injury severity resulted in acceptable reliability. Reliability was not strongly affected by the parent completing the NewMAP TBI.
Categorical reporting of TBI characteristics in children and adolescents can aid clinicians in retrospectively obtaining reliable estimates of TBI severity up to a year post-injury. However, test–retest reliability is strongly impacted by the initial data distribution, selected statistical methods, and potentially by patient difficulty in distinguishing among conceptually similar medical concepts (i.e., PTA vs. confusion).
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