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J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2011 Nov-Dec;26(6):454-67. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3181ff393c.

Evaluation of the Veterans Health Administration traumatic brain injury screening program in the upper Midwest.

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Center for Chronic Diseases Outcomes Research, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55417, USA.



To evaluate the Veterans Health Administration's traumatic brain injury (TBI) screening program in terms of predictors of screening and positive-screen follow-up.


Retrospective administrative data study. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the odds of TBI screening at a given appointment and among those screening positive, follow-up in a TBI/polytrauma specialty clinic.


A total of 15,973 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans treated at a Veterans Affairs medical center in the upper Midwest during the first 18 months of the TBI screening program.


Almost 90% of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran patients were offered TBI screening and 17% screened positive. Screening rates increased over time and varied by facility. Appointment type predicted screening with increased likelihood of screening during primary care and TBI/polytrauma clinic appointments. Younger, male, and army veterans without psychiatric diagnoses were more likely to be screened. Fifty-two percent of positive TBI screens had subsequent appointments in a TBI/polytrauma specialty clinic during the study period. Rates of follow-up in the clinic increased over time and varied by facility and patient characteristics.


Within the upper Midwest, Veterans Health Administration has had greater success implementing TBI screening than ensuring follow-up of positive screens in a specialty clinic. Research is needed on barriers to follow-up of positive screens and the outcomes of TBI screening and subsequent specialty care.

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