Background Relative to younger adults, older adults tend to perform more poorly on tests of free recall. However, whether such age-related differences in recall affect retrospective self-report of a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains unclear. This study aimed to examine the age-related differences on reporting the severity of lifetime history of TBI.
Methods We obtained data on lifetime history of TBI with loss of consciousness (LOC) and participant demographics from the 2016–2019 Ohio Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. We measured TBI severity as the minutes of LOC (< 5 minutes, 5–30 minutes, 31 minutes-24 hour, and >24 hours). We examined the associations of age at injury, age at interview, and years from injury to interview with reporting of the severity of lifetime history of TBI with LOC.
Results Of the 16,941 respondents included, 2,728 (16.1%) reported having at least one TBI with LOC, and 1,730 (10.2%) reported having only one TBI with LOC. Of those with one TBI, younger age at injury was associated with reporting greater severity of TBI than older age at injury, while older age at interview was associated with reporting greater severity of TBI than younger age at interview. Further, more years since injury to interview was associated with reporting greater severity of TBI.
Conclusion Our results suggest that there are age-related differences in recalling a history of TBI. Remote injuries recalled by older adults are more severe than recent injuries.
Learning Outcomes Explain effects of age-related differences in recall in TBI studies
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