Associations between frequent pain or headaches and neurobehavioral symptoms by gender and TBI severity

Karen J. Meltzer, Shannon B. Juengst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate differences in frequent pain or headaches and associated neurobehavioral symptoms among men, women, and transgender individuals with and without a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Setting: Community Participants: English and Spanish-speaking adults (n = 2,862) with and without self-reported TBI Design: Cross-sectional study Main Measures: Behavioral Assessment Screening Tool (BAST) subscales for Negative Affect, Substance Abuse, Executive Function, Fatigue, Impulsivity, and one item for experiencing “frequent pain or headache.” Results: Women reported more pain than men. Women with a mild TBI (mTBI) more often reported frequent headaches/pain than woman in general or those with mTBI alone. Women reporting frequent headache/pain reported more negative affect and fatigue than men with comparable TBI history. Individuals identifying as transgender/other without TBI had higher negative affect and fatigue than both men and women without TBI. Individuals with mTBI and frequent headache/pain reported more executive function problems than those with mTBI without headache/pain. Pain and moderate/severe TBI were associated with more executive function problems in men and women, but more so for women. Conclusion: Results suggest frequent headache/pain may differ between genders, particularly after mTBI. Pain, fatigue, executive function, and negative affect may be especially important in women’s recovery from TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalBrain injury
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Traumatic brain injury
  • behavior
  • emotion
  • gender
  • pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology


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