This study examined if acquiring a traumatic brain injury (TBI) increases utilization
of health care costs, increases risk of job loss for the patient and the closest relatives,
and increases the risk of divorce 1 to 5 years following the injury. The study was
conducted as a Danish national population-based register study with follow-up. Participants
included a cohort of patients with TBI (n = 18,328) admitted to a hospital or treated
in an emergency room (ER) and a matching control group (n = 89,155). For both the
TBI group and the matching controls, relatives were identified, using national registers
(TBI relatives:n = 25,708 and control relatives:n = 135,325). The outcome measures
were utilization of health care costs (including hospital services, use of general
practitioner and practicing specialists, and prescribed medication), risk of job loss,
and risk of divorce among the TBI group and the control group and their relatives.
Patients with TBI had significantly increased health care costs at baseline (i.e.,
the year before the injury) and during the following 4 years. Further, TBI relatives
had a significantly higher utilization of health care costs the first and the third
year after injury. The TBI group had a significant increased risk of job loss (odds
ratio [OR] = 2.88; confidence interval [CI]: 2.70-3.07) and divorce (OR = 1.44; CI:
1.27-1.64) during the first 3 years following injury. In conclusion, the TBI group
had significantly higher utilization of health care costs, both pre-morbidly and post-injury.
Further, increased risk of job loss and divorce were found, emphasizing that the socioeconomic
consequences of TBI last for years post-injury.