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Maguen S, Lau KM, Madden E, Seal K. Factors associated with completing comprehensive traumatic brain injury evaluation. Military medicine. 2012 Jul 1; 177(7):797-803.
This study examined factors associated with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans following up with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) comprehensive traumatic brain injury (TBI) evaluation after a positive first-level VA TBI screen. Participants included 465 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans at one VA Medical Center and its five affiliated community-based outpatient clinics, with a positive initial TBI screen between April 1, 2007 and June 1, 2010. We found that 75% of Veterans completed the comprehensive TBI evaluation. Women were three times less likely to complete the comprehensive TBI evaluation than men, and those who endorsed post-traumatic stress disorder avoidance symptoms were nearly two times less likely to complete the comprehensive TBI evaluation. In contrast, headaches, Hispanic ethnicity, and the season of the initial TBI screen (summer vs. winter) were positively associated with completing a comprehensive TBI evaluation. A substantial minority of Veterans who screen positive on the VA initial TBI screen fail to present for the comprehensive TBI evaluation. Addressing specific gender-related issues, avoidance, and the timing of referrals in the context of VA polytrauma programs may increase the likelihood that Veterans receive further assessment, education, and early intervention for TBI or other mental health problems to prevent chronic postdeployment disability.