Normative Data for the Fear Avoidance Behavior After Traumatic Brain Injury Questionnaire in a Clinical Sample of Adults With Mild TBI

J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2021 Sep-Oct;36(5):E355-E362. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000669.


Objective: Fear avoidance behavior after a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is associated with a number of adverse outcomes, such as higher symptom burden, emotional distress, and disability. The Fear Avoidance Behavior after Traumatic Brain Injury Questionnaire (FAB-TBI) is a recently developed and validated self-report measure of fear avoidance after mTBI. The objective of this study was to derive clinical normative data for the FAB-TBI. To determine whether demographic stratification was necessary and to further support clinical interpretation, we also explored associations between fear avoidance behavior and demographic and injury variables.

Setting: Five concussion clinics in Canada.

Participants: Adults who sustained an mTBI (N = 563).

Design: Cross-sectional.

Main measures: Participants completed the Fear Avoidance Behavior after Traumatic Brain Injury Questionnaire (FAB-TBI) and measures of postconcussion symptom burden (Rivermead Postconcussion Symptoms Questionnaire, Sport Concussion Assessment Tool-5) at clinic intake.

Results: Generalized linear modeling revealed that females reported more fear avoidance than males (95% CI = 0.66 to 2.75), indicating that FAB-TBI normative data should be stratified by sex. Differences between recruitment sites on FAB-TBI scores were reduced but not eliminated by controlling for potential confounds. Loss of consciousness (95% CI =0.61 to 2.76) and higher postconcussion symptom burden (95% CI = 0.79 to 1.03) were also associated with higher FAB-TBI scores, but time since injury was not (95% = CI -0.4 to 0.03). Tables to convert FAB-TBI raw scores to Rasch scores to percentiles are presented.

Conclusion: These findings support clinical interpretation of the FAB-TBI and further study of fear avoidance after mTBI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Brain Concussion* / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires