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Amy K. Wagner, MD, and Team of Physiatrists Publish Patterns of Suicidal Ideation in Those Who Experience TBI

March 10, 2022

Amy K. Wagner, MD, professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and director of the Brain Injury Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh, worked with physiatrists from several respected universities and medical centers in the U.S., to research patterns of suicidal ideation (SI) in those who experience moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The goal of the study was to identify group-based patterns in suicidal ideation over the first 10 years after traumatic brain injury. Participants included 9,539 individuals in the TBI Model Systems National Database who responded to Patient Health Questionnaire-9 Item 9 assessing SI at 1, 2, 5, and/or 10 years post-injury. The research team conducted a k-means cluster analysis to determine group-based patterns of SI, and they compared pre-injury variables with ANOVAs and chi-square tests.

The team ultimately found that SI and attempts decreased over time. Four group-based patterns emerged throughout the study: low, increasing, moderate, and decreasing SI. The low SI group comprised 89% of the sample, had the highest pre-injury employment, fewer mental health vulnerabilities, least severe injuries, and were the oldest. The increasing SI group had the most severe TBIs, were youngest, and were disproportionately Black or Asian/Pacific Islander.

Findings from the Identifying group-based patterns of suicidal ideation over the first 10 years after moderate-to-severe TBI study reinforce the importance of mental health and suicide risk assessment during chronic recovery from TBI.

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