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Screening for mild traumatic brain injury in OEF-OIF deployed US military: an empirical assessment of VHA's experience.

Hendricks AM, Amara J, Baker E, Charns MP, Gardner JA, Iverson KM, Kimerling R, Krengel M, Meterko M, Pogoda TK, Stolzmann KL, Lew HL. Screening for mild traumatic brain injury in OEF-OIF deployed US military: an empirical assessment of VHA's experience. Brain injury. 2013 Aug 8; 27(2):125-34.

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BACKGROUND: VHA screens for traumatic brain injury (TBI) among patients formerly deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, referring those who screen positive for a Comprehensive TBI Evaluation (CTBIE). METHODS: To assess the programme, rates were calculated of positive screens for potential TBI in the population of patients screened in VHA between October 2007 through March 2009. Rates were derived of TBI confirmed by comprehensive evaluations from October 2008 through July 2009. Patient characteristics were obtained from Department of Defense and VHA administrative data. RESULTS: In the study population, 21.6% screened positive for potential TBI and 54.6% of these had electronic records of a CTBIE. Of those with CTBIE records, evaluators confirmed TBI in 57.7%, yielding a best estimate that 6.8% of all those screened were confirmed to have TBI. Three quarters of all screened patients and virtually all those evaluated (whether TBI was confirmed or not) had VHA care the following year. CONCLUSIONS: VHA''s TBI screening process is inclusive and has utility in referring patients with current symptoms to appropriate care. More than 90% of those evaluated received further VHA care and confirmatory evaluations were associated with significantly higher average utilization. Generalizability is limited to those who seek VHA healthcare.

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