Research Reports - Anxiety sensitivity and alexithymia as mediators of postconcussion syndrome following mild traumatic brain injury

J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2013 Feb 1

Wood RL, O'Hagan G, Williams C, McCabe M, Chadwick N

OBJECTIVE:: To examine the influence of anxiety sensitivity (AS) and alexithymia
as potential mediators for the development of psychological distress and
postconcussion syndrome after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). PARTICIPANTS::
Sixty-one patients with mTBI assessed at a mean of 2.38 weeks after injury and
demographically matched healthy controls (n = 61). MEASURES:: Twenty-item Toronto
Alexithymia Scale, Anxiety Sensitivity Index, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and
Rivermead Post Concussion Questionnaire. RESULTS:: The mTBI group reported
significantly higher levels of AS, alexithymia, psychological distress, and
postconcussion (PC) symptom scores than controls. High AS and alexithymia in the
mTBI group were associated with a greater number of PC symptoms and higher levels
of psychological distress than patients scoring low on these measures and
controls. In the mTBI group, a combination of AS and low mood explained 52.6% of
the variance in PC symptom reporting. A combination of trait-anxiety,
alexithymia, and PC symptoms explained 77.2% of the variance in levels of mood.
CONCLUSION:: A combination of low mood and high AS may act as a psychological
diathesis for the development of persisting PC symptoms. Early identification
could provide a focus for early intervention to prevent the development of
postconcussion syndrome after mTBI.

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