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Adolescent Concussion and Mental Health Outcomes: A Population-based Study

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Objectives: Population-based research on the relationship between concussions and self-harm, depression, and suicidal behaviors among adolescents is limited. Methods: A statewide Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS) was conducted among students from 98 high schools in Nevada in 2017. Students were asked if they had a concussion from playing a sport as well as their mental health outcomes 12 months before the survey. Weighted multiple logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between experiencing a concussion and adverse mental health outcomes. Results: Among 3427 students who were physically active at least 60 minutes per day on 5 or more days per week, or played on at least one sport team, 19.5% (95% CI: 17.31%-21.60%) reported they had a concussion during the past 12 months. After controlling for sex, age, race/ethnicity, and academic performance, students who had a concussion had higher odds of: self-harm [aOR = 1.59 (1.16-2.17), p = .003], depressive symptoms [aOR = 1.48 (1.12-1.94), p = .006], attempted suicide [aOR = 3.10 (2.12-4.53), p < .001] and injury from attempted suicide [aOR = 2.61 (1.31-5.20, p = .006]. Conclusions: Students who experience a concussion may be at increased risk for poor mental health outcomes, including suicide attempts. Psychological evaluation following a concussion should complement medical evaluation and treatment..


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Student Research Assistant, School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, NV 2: Associate Professor, School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, NV 3: Program Manager, Nevada State Division of Public and Behavior Health, Carson City, NV 4: Professor, School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada-Reno, Reno, NV

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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