Comparison of Emotions and Difficulties in Emotion Regulation between Mild Traumatic Brain Injured and Healthy Participants

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Iran, Islamic Republic of

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

MSc Student, Department of Psychology, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, School of Medicine, Kashan University of Medical Sciences, Kashan, Iran
Iran, Islamic Republic of


Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common type of traumas and the most important cause of mortality in survivors of accidents in most countries. The inability to regulate positive and negative emotions is one of the features of head trauma. The present study was performed to compare positive and negative emotions and problems in emotion regulation between patients with mild TBI and healthy individuals.

Methods: In order to collect the required data, the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule ‎(PANAS) scale and a demographic characteristics questionnaire were used. After obtaining informed consents, the research procedure was performed by a clinical psychologist for the two groups. The 40 patients with TBI (75% men) were compared with the 40 healthy participants of the control group (75% men).

Results: Multivariate tests such as Hotelling’s Trace showed significant differences between TBI and control groups (F = 4.883, P = 0.001, ES = 0.32). There were significant differences between the two groups in terms of the negative mood scale of the PANAS scale and the subscales of non-acceptance of emotional responses (NONACCEPT), difficulties engaging in goal directed ‎behavior (GOALS) and limited access to emotion regulation strategies (STRATEGIES) and total score of the DERS.

Conclusion: The fact that there was no significant differences between the groups in the lack of emotional awareness (AWARE) and lack of emotional clarity (CLARITY) may show that people with mild TBI have some access to their emotions, but cannot regulate them. This study adds to previous knowledge by understanding emotions and emotional regulation strategies in patients with mild TBI. Some limitations of the present study and suggestions for future studies have been discussed in the present text.

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