Use of Mental Health Services by Adolescents After Traumatic Brain Injury: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Andrea R.S. Huebner, Amy Cassedy, Tanya M. Brown, H. Gerry Taylor, Terry Stancin, Michael W. Kirkwood, Shari L. Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Mental health problems are common after pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI). Many patients in need of mental health services do not receive them, but studies have not consistently used prospective and objective methods or followed samples for more than 1 year. Objective: To examine adolescents’ use of mental health services after TBI. Design: Secondary analysis from multicenter prospective randomized controlled trial. Setting: Five level 1 U.S. trauma centers. Participants: Adolescents aged 12-17 years with moderate-to-severe TBI were recruited for a randomized clinical trial (n = 132 at baseline, 124 at 6 months, 113 at 12 months, and 101 at 18 months). Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to counselor-assisted problem-solving or Internet resource comparison. Follow-up assessments were completed at 6, 12, and 18 months after baseline. Generalized estimating equations with a logit link were used to examine use of mental health services. Treatment group and participant impairment were examined as predictors of use. Main Outcome Measurements: Mental health care use was measured with the Service Assessment for Children and Adolescents; daily functioning and clinical outcome with the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale; behavioral and emotional functioning with the Child Behavior Checklist; and executive dysfunction with the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function. Results: Use of mental health services ranged from 22% to 31% in the 2 years post-TBI. Participants with impairments were about 3 times more likely than those without impairments to receive services (odds ratio 4.61; 95% confidence interval 2.61-8.14; P <.001). However, 50%-68% of patients identified as impaired had unmet mental health care needs. Conclusions: Less than one half of adolescents with behavioral health needs after TBI received mental health services. Future studies are needed to examine barriers associated with seeking services after TBI and psychoeducation as preventive care for this population. Level of Evidence: II

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-471
Number of pages10
JournalPM and R
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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