Fear Avoidance and Return to Work After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Snell, DL
Faulkner, JW
Williman, JA
Silverberg, ND
Theadom, A
Surgenor, LJ
Hackney, J
Siegert, RJ
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Journal Article
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Informa UK Limited

Objectives: Fear avoidance is associated with symptom persistence after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). In this study, we investigated whether fear avoidance was associated with other outcomes such as return to work-related activity (RTW). Materials and

Methods: We analyzed associations between fear avoidance and RTW 6–9 months after mTBI, in two merged prospective mTBI cohorts. Adult participants aged 16 or over (n=175), presenting to outpatient services in New Zealand within 3 months of their injury, who were engaged in work-related activity at the time of injury, were included. Participants completed the Fear Avoidance Behavior after Traumatic Brain Injury (FAB-TBI) questionnaire at enrollment and 6 months later. Associations between FAB-TBI scores and RTW outcome were analyzed using multivariate approaches.

Results: Overall, 53% of participants had RTW by 6–9 months after mTBI. While early fear avoidance was weakly associated with RTW, persistent high fear avoidance between study assessments or increasing avoidance with time were associated with greater odds of still being off work 6–9 months after injury.

Conclusions: Pervasive and increasing avoidance of symptom triggers after mTBI were associated with lower rates of RTW 6–9 months after mTBI. Further research is needed to better understand transition points along the recovery trajectory where fear avoidance behaviors fade or increase after mTBI.

Mild TBI , RTW , fear avoidance , return to work , 4201 Allied Health and Rehabilitation Science , 42 Health Sciences , Neurosciences , Behavioral and Social Science , Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) , Physical Injury - Accidents and Adverse Effects , Brain Disorders , Traumatic Head and Spine Injury , Clinical Research , 11 Medical and Health Sciences , 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences , Rehabilitation , 3202 Clinical sciences , 4201 Allied health and rehabilitation science , 5203 Clinical and health psychology
Brain Injury, ISSN: 0269-9052 (Print); 1362-301X (Online), Informa UK Limited, 37(6), 1-10. doi: 10.1080/02699052.2023.2180663
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