Mild traumatic brain injury in young men presenting to the emergency department: A pilot study of an online intervention of substance abuse and depression

Strands Project Theme
Project Description

Male gender, substance abuse, previous traumatic brain injury (TBI), low socioeconomic status, psychiatric illness and age (late teens - early 20’s) are recognised risk factors for TBI. Psychiatric symptoms, particularly depression, are common following a TBI, including mild TBI specifically.  In most instances, patients who are seen with a mild TBI in the emergency department do not receive any systematic, organised follow-up despite evidence showing that about 60-70% have a history of alcohol abuse and 20-40% have a history of illicit substance abuse.  This lack of follow-up constitutes a lost opportunity to engage with individuals at a time in their lives when, particularly if they are suffering from residual symptoms related to the TBI, they might be most receptive to interventions designed to modify aspects of their behaviour in the future (e.g. substance abuse in particular). Furthermore, because depression is very common following TBI and may not be actively reported to, or treated, by medical practitioners, unnecessary suffering could potentially be averted by a more proactive approach to its management.

This pilot study aims to determine the feasibility and acceptability of the recruitment processes, participant assessments and the Self-Help for Alcohol/other drugs and Depression (SHADE) intervention for depression and substance abuse among young men who present to the ED with a mild TBI and are at risk of poor health outcomes or offending.  This study will additionally determine whether any differences in impulsivity, AOD use and offending history exist among young men who present to the ED with an assault-related TBI and non-assault related TBI.