Methodological issues and research recommendations for prognosis after mild traumatic brain injury: results of the International Collaboration on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Prognosis

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Mar;95(3 Suppl):S265-77. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2013.04.026.


The International Collaboration on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Prognosis performed a comprehensive search and critical review of the literature from 2001 to 2012 to update the 2002 best-evidence synthesis conducted by the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Neurotrauma, Prevention, Management and Rehabilitation Task Force on the prognosis of MTBI. Of 299 relevant studies, 101 were accepted as scientifically admissible. The methodological quality of the research literature on MTBI prognosis has not improved since the 2002 Task Force report. There are still many methodological concerns and knowledge gaps in the literature. Here we report and make recommendations on how to avoid methodological flaws found in prognostic studies of MTBI. Additionally, we discuss issues of MTBI definition and identify topic areas in need of further research to advance the understanding of prognosis after MTBI. Priority research areas include but are not limited to the use of confirmatory designs, studies of measurement validity, focus on the elderly, attention to litigation/compensation issues, the development of validated clinical prediction rules, the use of MTBI populations other than hospital admissions, continued research on the effects of repeated concussions, longer follow-up times with more measurement periods in longitudinal studies, an assessment of the differences between adults and children, and an account for reverse causality and differential recall bias. Well-conducted studies in these areas will aid our understanding of MTBI prognosis and assist clinicians in educating and treating their patients with MTBI.

Keywords: Brain concussion; Epidemiology; Injuries; Methods; Rehabilitation; Research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Biomedical Research / standards
  • Brain Concussion / classification
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / classification*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Trauma Severity Indices*
  • World Health Organization