Ethnographic analysis of traumatic brain injury patients in the national Model Systems database

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2003 Feb;84(2):263-7. doi: 10.1053/apmr.2003.50091.


Objective: To compare demographics, injury characteristics, therapy service and intensity, and outcome in minority versus nonminority patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Design: Retrospective analysis.

Setting: Twenty medical centers.

Participants: Two thousand twenty patients (men, n=1,518; women, n=502; nonminority, n=1,168; minority, n=852) with TBI enrolled in the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems database.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcomes measures: Age, gender, marital status, education, employment status, injury severity (based on Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] admission score, length of posttraumatic amnesia, duration of unconsciousness), intensity (hours) of therapy rendered, rehabilitation length of stay (LOS), rehabilitation charges, discharge disposition, postinjury employment status, FIM instrument change scores, and FIM efficiency scores. Independent sample t tests were used to analyze continuous variables; chi-square analyses were used to evaluate categorical data.

Demographics: overall, minorities were found to be mostly young men who were single, unemployed, and less well educated, with a longer work week if employed when injured.

Etiology: motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) predominated as the cause of injury for both groups; however, minorities were more likely to sustain injury from acts of violence and auto-versus-pedestrian crashes. Minorities also had higher GCS scores on admission and shorter LOS. Rehabilitation services: significant differences were found in the types and intensity of rehabilitation services provided; these included physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology, but not psychology.

Conclusion: Minority patients who sustain TBI generally tend to be young men with less social responsibility. Although MVCs predominate as the primary etiology, acts of violence and auto-versus-pedestrian incidents are more common in the minority population. Minorities tend to have higher GCS scores at admission. Also, the type and intensity of rehabilitation services provided differed significantly for the various interdisciplinary subspecialties. Rehabilitation charges, discharge disposition, and postinjury employment status were similar for the 2 groups, even though LOS is typically 3 to 4 days shorter for the minority group. A more detailed investigation is warranted to explain these findings.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adult
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Brain Injuries / ethnology*
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors