Perception of health and quality of life in minorities after mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury.

Much has been reported of the influence of age, affective symptoms, and satisfaction on self-ratings of health functioning, but little is known about the extent that race-based perceptions may have on influencing behavior or adjustment after a mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury (MTBI). We investigated differences in perception of health functioning by race for mental and physical functioning using a global measure of health functioning. MTBI (n = 135) and general trauma (GT, n = 83) patients recruited from an area Level-1 trauma center at 3 months after injury were administered the Medical Outcomes Study: Short Form (SF-36), Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994), Community Integration Questionnaire, Social Support Questionnaire (SSQ), Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression, and the Visual Analogue Scale of Depression. A significant interaction for Race Group (p < .01) was found on the Physical Component Scale (PCS) of the SF-36. In the MTBI group, African Americans reported worse functioning (p < .04) on the PCS scale; they perceived functioning on subscales General Health Perception (p < .02) and Physical Functioning (p < .04) to be more limited. On the SSQ, Hispanic MTBI patients reported having fewer social supports available to them (p < .05), although the race groups were comparable for satisfaction with their support. Rate of depression across groups was comparable, although subjective reporting by minority MTBI patients indicated greater depressed feelings. Differences in perception of health functioning may be related to the unique interaction created between sustaining an MTBI and variations in cultural expression of disability. Manifestations of physical difficulties may be better accepted for some cultures than having mental illness.