Subjective complaints versus neuropsychological test performance after moderate to severe head injury

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 1998;140(3):245-53. doi: 10.1007/s007010050091.


Neuropsychological test performance and subjective complaints of 85 patients with moderate to severe head injury were investigated at 6 months postinjury. The neuropsychological test battery included 10 measures of attention, memory, mental flexibility, reaction time, visuoconstruction and verbal fluency. Subjective complaints were assessed using a self-report questionnaire subdivided into four subscales (somatic, cognitive, emotional and behavioural). Ratings were obtained for the pre-injury and current status. Thirty-three trauma patients with injuries to other parts of the body than the head were used as controls. For the head injured, relatives also completed the questionnaire. Head injured patients performed significantly below trauma control patients on nearly all test measures. Head injured patients and their relatives reported a significant increase in subjective complaints since the injury on all four subscales, with no differences between patients' and relatives' reports. These changes were also reported by the trauma controls, but they report fewer changes in somatic and cognitive functioning. Exploratory canonical correlation analyses revealed no correlations between any of the four scales of the questionnaire and the test measures, nor for the head injured, the trauma controls, or the relatives, indicating no relevant relationship between subjective complaints and neuropsychological test performance.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Sick Role
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology