Systematic review of multivariable prognostic models for mild traumatic brain injury

J Neurotrauma. 2015 Apr 15;32(8):517-26. doi: 10.1089/neu.2014.3600. Epub 2015 Jan 13.


Prognostic models can guide clinical management and increase statistical power in clinical trials. The availability and adequacy of prognostic models for mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is uncertain. The present study aimed to (1) identify and evaluate multivariable prognostic models for MTBI, and (2) determine which pre-, peri-, and early post-injury variables have independent prognostic value in the context of multivariable models. An electronic search of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, EMBASE, and CINAHL databases for English-language MTBI cohort studies from 1970-2013 was supplemented by Web of Science citation and hand searching. This search strategy identified 7789 articles after removing duplicates. Of 182 full-text articles reviewed, 26 met eligibility criteria including (1) prospective inception cohort design, (2) prognostic information collected within 1 month post-injury, and (3) 2+variables combined to predict clinical outcome (e.g., post-concussion syndrome) at least 1 month later. Independent reviewers extracted sample characteristics, study design features, clinical outcome variables, predictor selection methods, and prognostic model discrimination, calibration, and cross-validation. These data elements were synthesized qualitatively. The present review found no multivariable prognostic model that adequately predicts individual patient outcomes from MTBI. Suboptimal methodology limits their reproducibility and clinical usefulness. The most robust prognostic factors in the context of multivariable models were pre-injury mental health and early post-injury neuropsychological functioning. Women and adults with early post-injury anxiety also have worse prognoses. Relative to these factors, the severity of MTBI had little long-term prognostic value. Future prognostic studies should consider a broad range of biopsychosocial predictors in large inception cohorts.

Keywords: concussion; prognosis; systematic review; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Prognosis*