Identifying the principal determinants of life satisfaction following mild TBI (mTBI) may inform efforts to improve subjective well-being in this population. We examined life satisfaction among participants in the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI) study who presented with mTBI (Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] score = 13-15; n = 1152). An L1-regularization path algorithm was used to select optimal sets of baseline and concurrent symptom measures for prediction of scores on the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) at 2 weeks and 3, 6, and 12 months post-injury. Multi-variable linear regression models (all n = 744-894) were then fit to evaluate associations between the empirically selected predictors and SWLS scores at each follow-up visit. Results indicated that emotional post-TBI symptoms (all b = -1.27 to -0.77, all p < 0.05), anhedonia (all b = -1.59 to -1.08, all p < 0.01), and pain interference (all b = -1.38 to -0.89, all p < 0.001) contributed to the prediction of lower SWLS scores at all follow-ups. Insomnia predicted lower SWLS scores at 2 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months (all b = -1.11 to -0.83, all ps < 0.01); and negative affect predicted lower SWLS scores at 2 weeks, 3 months, and 12 months (all b = -1.38 to -0.80, all p < 0.005). Other post-TBI symptom domains and baseline socio-demographic, injury-related, and clinical characteristics did not emerge as robust predictors of SWLS scores during the year after mTBI. Efforts to improve satisfaction with life following mTBI may benefit from a focus on the detection and treatment of affective symptoms, pain, and insomnia. The results reinforce the need for tailoring of evidence-based treatments for these conditions to maximize efficacy in patients with mTBI.
Keywords: concussion; life satisfaction; post-concussive symptoms; traumatic brain injury; well-being.