Neurocognitive correlates of probable posttraumatic stress disorder following traumatic brain injury

Dominique L G Van Praag, Kristien Wouters, Filip Van Den Eede, Lindsay Wilson, Andrew I R Maas, CENTER-TBI investigators and participants, Morten Blaabjerg (Member of author group), Christina Rosenlund (Member of author group), Rico Frederik Schou (Member of author group)

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Introduction: Neurocognitive problems associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can interact with impairment resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Research question: We aimed to identify neurocognitive problems associated with probable PTSD following TBI in a civilian sample.

Material and methods: The study is part of the CENTER-TBI project (Collaborative European Neurotrauma Effectiveness Research) that aims to better characterize TBI. For this cross-sectional study, we included patients of all severities aged over 15, and a Glasgow Outcome Score Extended (GOSE) above 3. Participants were assessed at six months post-injury on the PTSD Checklist-5 (PCL-5), the Trail Making Test (TMT), the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) and the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). Primary analysis was a complete case analysis. Regression analyses were performed to investigate the association between the PCL-5 and cognition.

Results: Of the 1134 participants included in the complete case analysis, 13.5% screened positive for PTSD. Probable PTSD was significantly associated with higher TMT-(B-A) (OR ​= ​1.35, 95% CI: 1.14-1.60, p ​< ​.001) and lower RAVLT-delayed recall scores (OR ​= ​0.74, 95% CI: 0.61-0.91, p ​= ​.004) after controlling for age, sex, psychiatric history, baseline Glasgow Coma Scale and education.

Discussion and conclusion: Poorer performance on cognitive tests assessing task switching and, to a lesser extent, delayed verbal recall is associated with probable PTSD in civilians who have suffered TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100854
JournalBrain and Spine
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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