Patients with Traumatic Brain Injuries Face Challenges Navigating Healthcare System

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Eliacin, J., Yang, Z., Kean, J., & Dixon, B. E. (2020). Characterizing health care utilization following hospitalization for a traumatic brain injury: a retrospective cohort study. Brain Injury, 35(1), 119–129.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to characterize health services utilization among individuals hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) 1-year post-injury.

Methods: Using a retrospective cohort design, adult patients (n = 32, 042) hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury between 2005 and 2014 were selected from a statewide traumatic brain injury registry. Data on health services utilization for 1-year post-injury were extracted from electronic medical and administrative records. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were used to characterize the cohort and a subgroup of superutilizers of health services.

Results: One year after traumatic brain injury, 56% of participants used emergency department services, 80% received inpatient services, and 93% utilized outpatient health services. Superutilizers had ≥3 emergency department visits, ≥3 inpatient admissions, or ≥26 outpatient visits 1-year post-injury. Twenty-six percent of participants were superutilizers of emergency department services, 30% of inpatient services, and 26% of outpatient services. Superutilizers contributed to 81% of emergency department visits, 70% of inpatient visits, and 60% of outpatient visits. Factors associated with being a superutilizer included sex, race, residence, and insurance type.

Conclusions: Several patient characteristics and demographic factors influenced patients’ healthcare utilization post-TBI. Findings provide opportunities for developing targeted interventions to improve patients’ health and traumatic brain injury-related healthcare delivery.

Posted on BrainLine April 21, 2021.