Primary objective: Many who attend hospital after head injury are not admitted to a hospital bed. This study explores the views of hospital attenders about advice received, predictors of memory for and compliance with advice and factors associated with early symptom persistence and outcome that might identify those requiring follow-up.
Design: A single group prospective follow-up design.
Methods and procedure: Relationships between information obtained by emergency department (ED) staff during admission and about satisfaction with and memory for advice and about symptom persistence was compared in 200 attenders with head injury who were not admitted to hospital. The telephone interview comprised a structured interview and the Post-Concussional Symptoms Checklist.
Results: Satisfaction with advice was high. Despite this, a minority remembered advice (alcohol/drugs 44%; medication 38%; rest/sleep 56%; work 36%; sport 36%). At follow-up, symptom complaints were not predicted by information obtained in the ED. Attenders with retrospectively assessed post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) for more than 5 minutes reported more symptoms and poorer memory for advice at follow-up.
Conclusions: Although satisfaction with advice was high, memory for advice was relatively poor and was associated with longer durations of PTA. Attenders with PTA > 5 minutes should be targeted for follow-up or inpatient admission.