Objective: Experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, this has not been examined in a population-based context. This study examined prevalence and predictors (demographic and injury related) of PTSD 1 year after TBI in a population-based sample.
Method: A population-based TBI incidence and outcomes study was conducted in Hamilton and Waikato Districts of New Zealand over 12 months (February 2011–March 2012) with follow-up at 1 year. The relationship of baseline demographic and TBI characteristics to PTSD (Post-traumatic Diagnostic Scale; PDS) was examined in 431 adults (>15 years old) 1 year post-TBI.
Results: On average, participants reported three PTSD symptoms, with heightened arousal being the most commonly reported. Nearly 18% of participants met criteria for PTSD. These participants were significantly more likely to report pre-TBI history of depression/anxiety, and to have drugs implicated in the injury. Regression indicated that female gender, increased loss of consciousness (LOC) and intentional injury predicted PTSD severity (R2 = .109, F[6, 294] = 6.007, p < .001) and number of symptoms (R2 = .098, F[3, 297] = 4.562, p < .001).
Conclusion: PTSD occurred as a long-term sequela in 18% of participants after TBI, with increased PTSD severity and greater number of symptoms associated with female gender, longer LOC and intentional injury. These findings have implications for identification and targeting of assessment and intervention resources towards those at greatest risk of PTSD following TBI.