Objective: To compare differences in functional outcomes between urban and rural patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Design: A longitudinal, prospective, multicentre study of a 2-year cohort from the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program (BIRP) for New South Wales, with follow-up at 18 months after injury. Participants: 198 patients (147 urban, 51 rural) with severe TBI from the 11 participating rehabilitation units. Main outcome measures: Demographic and injury details collected prospectively using a standardised questionnaire, and measures from five validated instruments (Disability Rating Scale, Mayo–Portland Adaptability Inventory, Sydney Psychosocial Reintegration Scale, Medical Outcomes Study Short Form and the General Health Questionnaire – 28-item version) administered at follow-up to document functional, psychosocial, emotional and vocational outcomes. Results: Demographic details, injury severity, lengths of stay in intensive and acute care wards were similar for both rural and urban groups. There were no significant group differences in functional outcomes, including return to work, at follow-up. Conclusions: Our findings contrast with previous research that has reported poorer outcomes after TBI for rural residents, and suggest that the integrated network of inpatient, outpatient and outreach services provided throughout NSW through the BIRP provides effective rehabilitation for people with severe TBI regardless of where they live.
Medical Journal of Australia / Vol. 181, No. 3, pp.130-134