Background: Depression and traumatic brain injury (TBI) substantially contribute to the U.S. health care burden. Depression is a known risk factor for prolonged recovery after TBI. However, the effect of depression treatment on health care utilization has yet to be studied. Objective: To examine whether an association exists between pharmacologic treatment of depression at the time of mild or concussive TBI and the number of subsequent clinician visits for persistent injury-related symptoms. Design: Retrospective medical record review. Setting: Tertiary care medical center. Participants: A total of 120 patients (mean age 45.6 years) with a history of depression who subsequently experienced a mild or concussive TBI were included. Methods: Individuals were identified with co-occurring diagnoses of depression and mild or concussive TBI by retrospective electronic medical record review. The diagnosis of depression must have preceded the diagnosis of TBI. Main Outcome: The number of clinician visits for postinjury symptoms were counted at 3, 6, and 12 months postinjury. Results: Clinician visits for persistent injury-related symptoms were significantly fewer at all 3 time points for the group treated for depression at time of injury. Conclusions: Depressed individuals who were pharmacologically treated for depression at the time of TBI had significantly fewer clinician visits for persistent postinjury symptoms than those not pharmacologically treated for depression at the time of injury. Routine depression screening in patients with a high risk for TBI may identify a mood disorder that could contribute to persistent symptoms if left untreated, with its effective management potentially reducing health-related costs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
- Clinical Neurology