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Can the Ohio State University TBI Identification Method be used reliably to determine an individual’s lifetime history of TBI?

Categories: Rehabilitation and Recovery

The Question

Can the Ohio State University TBI Identification Method be used reliably to determine an individual's lifetime history of TBI? Does the OSU TBI-ID predict common consequences of TBI?

Past Studies

Past Studies have had problems determining a person’s lifetime history of TBI. Medical records cannot be relied upon because not all persons who sustain a TBI get medical attention, and it is difficult to be sure that the researcher or clinician has all of the person’s records, including those from the school nurse, team doctor, etc. Previous studies have used 1- or 2-item screeners, which have questionable reliability and likely do not detect all TBIs.

This Study

This Study tested the ability of the OSU TBI-ID to reliably describe a lifetime history of TBI, and to predict consequences of TBI. The OSU TBI-ID uses a structured interview to obtain self- or proxy-reports of a person’s lifetime history of TBI. Different people can interpret the many terms used for describing TBI differently. For this reason, the OSU TBI-ID avoids the use of these terms by asking about all injuries in a person’s life first. Then, for all injuries that could have involved a TBI, the person is asked about whether he or she became confused, lost memory around the time of the event, or lost consciousness. The person is also asked about any medical attention that was received for the injuries. Finally, for the three most severe TBIs, the person is asked about the immediate and persistent effects of the injury.

Reliability of the OSU TBI-ID was tested with 119 persons who were receiving substance abuse treatment in a residential or intensive outpatient program. Interrater reliability was tested by having two research assistants interview each participant and then comparing their findings. It was found that the interrater reliability was high, meaning that the two research assistants reported similar findings when they interviewed the same person.

A second study involved 103 clients of the OSU TBI Network, a community-based treatment program for persons with TBI and a substance abuse disorder. The clients’ reports on the OSU TBI-ID were compared with measures of their thinking and behavior. It was found that the age at which someone has his or her first TBI is an important indicator of a person’s lifetime history of TBI. Age of first TBI with loss of consciousness was found to be related to many of the other indicators of TBI history, and to predict speedof processing, delayed memory and abstract thinking. The number of persistent problems due to TBI related to delayed memory.

Who May Be Affected By These Findings

It is hoped that this new method will help to identify historyof TBI in various groups, like persons receiving substance abuse or mental health treatment, older adults, and prisoners. If a TBI can be identified, then treatment can be modified to better meet the needs of the person.


This is just the first study looking at the usefulness of this method. More research is being done to look more closely at its reliability and validity. Shorter versions of the method are being developed for clinical use.

Bottom Line

This study provides some initial evidence that this instrument is useful in identifying lifetime history of TBI.

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Find This Study

Corrigan, J.D., & Bogner, J. (2007). Initial reliability and validity of the Ohio State University TBI identification method. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 22, 318 – 329.


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