Objective: To examine patterns, predictors and unmet needs of service utilisation and access to mental health and/or drug and alcohol services among community-dwelling adults with severe traumatic brain injury, and compare those who displayed challenging behaviours with those not displaying challenging behaviour.
Design: Retrospective multicentre study.
Subjects: All active clients (n = 507) of the New South Wales (NSW) Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program (BIRP) community rehabilitation teams.
Methods: Clinician-rated data were collected on client challenging behaviours, mental health and functional status, service utilisation and unmet needs. Between-groups analyses (challenging behaviour versus no challenging behaviours) were conducted to examine patterns of service utilisation and unmet needs. Predictors for service utilisation were tested by multiple linear regression.
Results: Challenging behaviours were associated with higher use of BIRP and non-BIRP services and greater levels of unmet needs. Challenging behaviour was an independent predictor of higher levels of service utilisation, in conjunction with pre- and post-injury mental health and drug and alcohol co-morbidities and geographic location. Only 15.3% of the 111 clients with challenging behaviours and co-morbid drug and alcohol problems accessed a drug and alcohol service, while another 32.4% had unmet needs for such services.
Conclusion: Challenging behaviours make an independent contribution to increased levels of service utilisation after severe traumatic brain injury.