Traumatic brain injury rates and sequelae: a comparison of prisoners with a matched community sample in Australia

Brain Inj. 2011;25(2):131-41. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2010.536193. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


Aim: To compare rates of past reported traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a prisoner sample with those in a control group drawn from the same location of usual residence.

Method: The prisoner group comprised a consecutive sample of men (n = 200) received into custody and screened by face-to-face interview. The control group comprised men (n = 200) matched for location of usual residence screened by telephone interview. Participants were asked about past TBIs and screened for drug and alcohol abuse, impulsivity and dissocial personality disorder.

Results: Eighty-two per cent of prisoners and 71.5% of community participants reported at least one past TBI of any severity (i.e. with or without a loss of consciousness (LOC)) and 64.5% of prisoners and 32.2% of community participants reported at least one TBI associated with a LOC. Prisoners were more likely to report persisting side-effects of TBI and were much more likely to screen positive for impulsivity and dissocial personality disorder. Multivariate analyses found no significant association between TBI frequency or severity and custody/community group membership.

Conclusions: High reported rates of TBI in prisoner populations may reflect the excess of socio-demographic risk factors for TBI. Results of the current study do not support a role for TBI as causally related to criminal conduct.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult