Abstract

Objective: Previous research examining an age effect on outcome following traumatic brain injury (TBI) has almost exclusively used a non-litigation population. The current research investigated whether older adults differed from younger adults in neuropsychological performance and reported levels of psychological distress following TBI in a compensation setting. Method: Participants (n = 66; age 18 – 88 at time of injury) who sustained at least a complicated mild TBI referred for compensation-related reasons were included in this retrospective study. Exclusion criteria included a history of psychiatric and neurological conditions and failure on multiple standardized performance validity tests. Participants completed the Neuropsychological Assessment Battery – Screening Module (NAB-SM), Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II), and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Age- and education-adjusted norms were used to control for normal age-related differences in scores. Results: Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that age did not significantly account for more variance over and above injury severity and time post-injury for overall NAB-SM (R2 = .01, F(1, 62) = .34, p = .56) and BDI-II scores (R2 = .04, F(1, 40) = 1.71, p = .20). However, there was an age effect for the BAI after accounting for severity and time post-injury (R2 = .07 F(1, 40) = 3.96, p = .05), with older adults scoring lower than younger adults. Conclusion(s): The present study suggests that older adults who have sustained at least a complicated mild TBI do not have worse neuropsychological outcomes, but may endorse lower levels of anxiety than younger adults in a litigation setting.