The association between paediatric traumatic brain injury and antisocial behaviour in adulthood: a longitudinal study using the ALSPAC data

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology


Despite growing evidence supporting a link between paediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) and engagement in antisocial behaviour, few studies have taken a rigorous approach in evaluating this. The present review systematically explored previous literature examining the association between TBI before the age of nineteen years old and engagement in severe behavioural problems such as for instance violence, aggression and assault. All articles published from 1990 to 2016 were searched using four major databases (Ovid MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Embase, Web of Science), alongside manual searching and cross-referencing. The level and quality of evidence were evaluated using quality assessment tools selected from previous literature. A total of 14 studies were found to meet eligibility criteria. Taken together, they supported the presence of an association between paediatric TBI and antisocial behaviour, and identified some potentially intersecting factors (e.g., emotional dysregulation, drug and alcohol abuse). However, the studies also consistently presented with a number of methodological limitations, such as, for instance, unclear temporal ordering of TBI and antisocial behaviour; limited information about participants’ pre-injury backgrounds; over-reliance on self-report measures. These make it difficult to make meaningful comparisons across studies and draw definite regarding the directionality of the relationship between TBI and antisocial behaviour, and the mechanisms underpinning this association. The findings indicate that there is a need for more extensive and methodologically sound research on the topic. A novel, age-graded theoretical model examining the relationship between paediatric TBI, antisocial behaviour, and different child- and parent-based risk factors was introduced, before this is described in more detail and tested in the next chapter of the present thesis. The implications of the present systematic review for informing rehabilitation and preventative measures are discussed.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorEdward Barker (Supervisor) & Lucia Valmaggia (Supervisor)

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