The Discrepancy between Cognitive Complaints and Neuropsychological Test Findings in Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury

Leia Vos, Michael W. Williams, Julia M.P. Poritz, Esther Ngan, Luis Leon-Novelo, Mark Sherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To better identify variables related to discrepancies between subjective cognitive complaints and objective neuropsychological findings in persons with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Setting: Three rehabilitation centers in the United States. Participants: In total, 504 community-dwelling adult survivors of TBI following discharge from inpatient rehabilitation. Design: Prospective cohort observation study. Main Measures: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition, Digit Span; Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test; Trail Making Test, Part B; Word Memory Test; Patient Health Questionnaire-9; Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory; TBI-Quality of Life item bank. Results: Statistical analyses revealed multiple factors associated with subjective-objective discrepancies in attention, memory, and executive functions. Depression was consistently associated with underestimation of cognitive abilities. However, subjective-objective discrepancies varied by cognitive domains in regard to other factors related to underestimation and overestimation of abilities. Conclusions: Reconciling and interpreting subjective-objective discrepancies regarding cognitive functions following TBI are important tasks for case conceptualization and treatment planning. Depression is an important patient characteristic to consider when discrepancy patterns indicate underestimation of cognitive abilities. This study highlights the importance of assessing mood, a modifiable patient characteristic, with self-report symptom inventories. Future studies are needed to connect these findings with TBI outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-392
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • cognition
  • depression
  • traumatic brain injury
  • validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology


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