A transdiagnostic investigation of emotional distress after traumatic brain injury Academic Article uri icon


  • Emotional distress after traumatic brain injury (TBI) often presents as a range of neurobehavioural and emotional reactions rather than distinct disorders. This study adopted a transdiagnostic approach with the aim of identifying psychological processes common to depression, anxiety and global distress after TBI. Fifty participants with TBI (aged 19-66 years, 12-65 months post-injury) completed measures of threat appraisals and avoidance behaviour (Appraisal of Threat and Avoidance Questionnaire), self-discrepancy (Head Injury Semantic Differential Scale III), emotion dysregulation (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale), worry (Penn State Worry Questionnaire), negative self-focused attention (Self-Focus Sentence Completion) and emotional distress (Depression Anxiety Stress Scales and Brief Symptom Inventory). Significant correlations were found among the proposed transdiagnostic variables (rs = .29-.82, p < .05). A principal components analysis revealed two underlying factors: (1) Threats to Self, and (2) Emotion Dysregulation. Only the Emotion Dysregulation factor accounted for significant unique variance in levels of depression, anxiety and global distress (sr(2) = .12-.17). Such findings indicate the need for interventions to target difficulties in identifying and regulating emotions after TBI to facilitate emotional adjustment.

publication date

  • 2016