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Brain Inj. 2014;28(4):448-55. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2014.890746. Epub 2014 Apr 4.

The emergency department social work intervention for mild traumatic brain injury (SWIFT-Acute): a pilot study.

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  • 1School of Social Work, University of Washington , Seattle, WA , USA .



To determine acceptability and preliminary effectiveness of Emergency Department (ED) Social Work Intervention for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (SWIFT-Acute) on alcohol use, community functioning, depression, anxiety, post-concussive symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder and service use.


This study enrolled 64 patients who received head CT after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and were discharged <24 hours from a Level 1 trauma centre ED. The cohort study compared outcomes for SWIFT-Acute (nā€‰=ā€‰32) and Usual Care (nā€‰=ā€‰32) 3 months post-injury. SWIFT-Acute includes education about symptoms and decreasing alcohol use, coping strategies, reassurance and education about recovery process and follow-up guidelines and resources.


Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), Community Integration Questionnaire (CIQ), Patient Health Questionnaire-4, Rivermead Post-concussion Symptoms Questionnaire, PTSD Checklist-Civilian, acceptability and service use surveys.


Paired t-test revealed SWIFT-Acute group maintained pre-injury community functioning; Usual Care significantly declined in functioning on the CIQ. Both groups reported 'hazardous' pre-injury drinking on AUDIT. Wilcoxon Signed Rank test showed the SWIFT-Acute group significantly reduced alcohol use; the Usual Care group did not. Both groups significantly increased medical service use. No statistically significant differences were found on other measures. Acceptability ratings were extremely high.


SWIFT-Acute was acceptable to patients. There is preliminary evidence of effectiveness for reducing alcohol use and preventing functional decline. Future randomized studies are needed.

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