Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William Drew Gouvier


Mild head injury is the most common form of head injury and the majority of individuals who sustain such injuries are young adults. Following mild head injury, individuals often complain of a number of physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms referred to as postconcussion symptoms (PCS). The most commonly reported postconcussion symptoms are headache, dizziness, decreased concentration, memory problems, irritability, fatigue, visual disturbances, sensitivity to noise, judgement problems, and anxiety. These symptoms can persist from months to years following injury and may even be permanent and cause disability (Brown, Fann, & Grant, 1994; Gouvier, Cubic, Jones, Brantley, and Cutlip, 1992). Both organic and psychological etiologies have been suggested for persistent PCS and most investigators now believe that a combination of multiple organic and psychological factors contribute to the development and continuation of these symptoms (Bohnen & Jolles, 1992). A number of neurocognitive, psychosocial, premorbid, and injury-related variables have been implicated in the development of persistent PCS including reduced information processing, increased psychological distress, external locus of control, female gender, positive premorbid history of psychological disturbance, and previous history of head injury. However, the findings among the various research studies have been conflicting. Determining the variables that influence the development of persisting PCS is important for identifying those at risk for chronic PCS following mild head injury and subsequently for tailoring preventative and palliative intervention strategies to manage PCS. Given this information, the present study attempted to identify premorbid/injury-related, neurocognitive, and psychosocial factors associated with persistent postconcussion symptomatology among mildly head-injured college students. The findings demonstrated that current psychological distress and female gender were the best predictors of PCS; high rates of PCS were associated with the presence of either of these factors. Decreased information processing and external locus of control were also related to PCS, but the relationships were weak. Prior head injury and premorbid history of psychological problems were not related to PCS. The results suggest that emotional status and gender are more important in predicting persistent PCS than neurocognitive status, psychological history, or history of previous mild head injury.