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Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2018 Nov 12. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acy081. [Epub ahead of print]

Validity of the ImPACT Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) Affective Symptom Cluster as a Screener for Depression in Collegiate Athletes.

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Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA.



The relationship between depression and sports-related concussion is complex and has implications both pre- and post-injury. The current study established the construct validity, convergent and discriminant, of the affective symptom cluster of The Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test (ImPACT) post-concussion symptom scale (PCSS) as a screening tool for depression.


Nine hundred and thirty (M = 695, F = 235) college athletes were assessed at baseline using the ImPACT PCSS and Beck-Depression Inventory-Fast Screen (BDI-FS). Previous factor analysis identified four symptom clusters on the PCSS: affective, physical, cognitive, and sleep. Clinically significant depression was operationalized as a BDI-FS score ≥4. Receiver Operating Characteristic curves (ROC) were used to determine the ideal cutoff, Chi-square tests of independence were calculated to establish convergent validity, and Fisher's r-to-z comparisons were used to establish discriminant validity of the affective symptom cluster.


The 90th percentile cutoff yielded the highest sensitivity and specificity on the affective symptom cluster for males (4) and females (6). The correlation between BDI-FS and the 90th percentile cutoff was statistically significantly higher in females (φ = .96) than males (φ = .83), Z = 9.49, p < .001. When correlating the BDI-FS with each PCSS symptom cluster, the correlation with the affective symptom cluster was stronger than its correlation with cognitive, sleep, and physical clusters across gender.


By utilizing a measure of depression within an existing and commonly used assessment, clinicians can easily screen for depression and identify athletes at risk for complicated recovery even in the absence of a supplemental depression assessment.


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