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Nelson NW, Anderson CR, Thuras P, Kehle-Forbes SM, Arbisi PA, Erbes CR, Polusny MA. Factors associated with inconsistency in self-reported mild traumatic brain injury over time among military personnel in Iraq. The British Journal of Psychiatry; The Journal of Mental Science. 2015 Mar 1; 206(3):237-44.
BACKGROUND: Estimates of the prevalence of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) among military personnel and combat veterans rely almost exclusively on retrospective self-reports; however, reliability of these reports has received little attention. AIMS: To examine the consistency of reporting of mTBI over time and identify factors associated with inconsistent reporting. METHOD: A longitudinal cohort of 948 US National Guard Soldiers deployed to Iraq completed self-report questionnaire screening for mTBI and psychological symptoms while in-theatre 1 month before returning home (time 1, T1) and 1 year later (time 2, T2). RESULTS: Most respondents (n = 811, 85.5%) were consistent in their reporting of mTBI across time. Among those who were inconsistent in their reports (n = 137, 14.5%), the majority denied mTBI at T1 and affirmed mTBI at T2 (n = 123, 89.8%). Respondents rarely endorsed mTBI in-theatre and later denied mTBI (n = 14, 10.2% of those with inconsistent reports). Post-deployment post-traumatic stress symptoms and non-specific physical complaints were significantly associated with inconsistent report of mTBI. CONCLUSIONS: Military service members' self-reports of mTBI are generally consistent over time; however, inconsistency in retrospective self-reporting of mTBI status is associated with current post-traumatic stress symptoms and non-specific physical health complaints.