Characterizing symptoms of traumatic brain injury in survivors of intimate partner violence

Brain Inj. 2019;33(12):1529-1538. doi: 10.1080/02699052.2019.1658129. Epub 2019 Aug 23.


Objective: This study examined the extent symptoms associated with potential traumatic brain injury (TBI) in intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors overlap with sport-related concussions (SRC). IPV survivor responses on the Brain Injury Severity Assessment (BISA) tool, an IPV-specific questionnaire developed to assess TBI symptoms; and the widely-used Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT5), were compared. Additionally, psychopathological assessments of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety were completed to account for confounding influences. Design: Eighteen women who had experienced IPV were recruited from high-barrier community-based women's shelters. Results: The total number of reported TBI were higher when employing the BISA compared to SCAT5, the strongest symptom-based correlations associated TBI severity was associated with arousal states ("Fatigue", "Anxious", "Drowsiness", "Just Don't Feel Right") or aspects of memory/cognition ("Difficulty Concentrating", "Difficulty Remembering"). Furthermore, TBI severity was also related to the degree of depression and anxiety, but unrelated to PTSD. Conclusions: Taken together, these findings can contribute to the development of enhanced screening tools and supports to help front-line staff identify TBI as a possible contributor to challenges faced by IPV survivors. By this means, women who have experienced IPV will be more likely to break the cycle of abuse and have more positive long-term health outcomes.

Keywords: BISA; IPV screening tools; Intimate partner violence; SCAT5; brain injury severity assessment; concussion; domestic violence; mild traumatic brain injury; sport concussion assessment tool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Fatigue / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mental Health*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Survivors*