Is lifetime traumatic brain injury a risk factor for mild cognitive impairment in veterans compared to non-veterans?

Rebecca Akhanemhe, Sharon Stevelink, Anne Corbett, Clive Ballard, Helen Brooker, Bryon Creese, Dag Aarsland, Adam Hampshire, Neil Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is prevalent in veterans and may occur at any stages of their life (before, during, or after military service). This is of particular concern, as previous evidence in the general population has identified TBI as a strong risk factor for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a known precursor of dementia. Objectives: This study aimed to investigate whether exposure to at least one TBI across the lifetime was a risk factor for MCI in ageing UK veterans compared to non-veterans. Method: This cross-sectional study comprised of data from PROTECT, a cohort study comprising UK veterans and non-veterans aged ≥ 50 years at baseline. Veteran and TBI status were self-reported using the Military Service History Questionnaire (MSHQ) and the Brain Injury Screening Questionnaire (BISQ), respectively. MCI was the outcome of interest, and was defined as subjective cognitive impairment and objective cognitive impairment. Results: The sample population comprised of veterans (n = 701) and non-veterans (n = 12,389). TBI was a significant risk factor for MCI in the overall sample (OR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.11–1.31) compared to individuals without TBI. The prevalence of TBI was significantly higher in veterans compared to non-veterans (69.9% vs 59.5%, p <.001). There was no significant difference in the risk of MCI between veterans with TBI and non-veterans with TBI (OR = 1.19, 95% CI 0.98–1.45). Conclusion: TBI remains an important risk factor for MCI, irrespective of veteran status. The clinical implications indicate the need for early intervention for MCI prevention after TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2291965
JournalEuropean journal of psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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