Traumatic brain injury is highly associated with self-reported childhood trauma within a juvenile offender cohort [2018]

Primary objective: To identify correlates of past traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a population of young offenders.

Research design: Cross-sectional analyses were conducted on available data from a sample derived from the NSW Young People on Community Orders Health Survey.

Procedures: Study participants were administered questionnaires to collect history relating to past TBI, childhood trauma, substance abuse, and psychological/psychiatric symptoms and underwent assessments of intellectual functioning. Information on offending history was accessed through Juvenile Justice administrative records.

Outcomes and results: Analyses were undertaken on data from 788 young offenders (672 males and 116 females).

A past TBI was reported in 39%. Symptoms of psychological distress were more prevalent in females. A history of TBI was associated with more symptoms on a Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, as well as higher psychological distress (K-10), and higher levels on standardized measures of anger/violence, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse.

Conclusions: The experience of early life trauma warrants further consideration as an antecedent to both childhood TBI and offending which might account for some of the previously observed association of mild TBI with subsequent offending behavior.

Peter W. Schofield, Racquel Mason, Paul K. Nelson, Dianna Kenny & Tony Butler
Brain Injury, Volume 33, 2019 – Issue 4