Background: There are currently over 5 million Americans living with disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI; Faul, Xu, Wald, & Coronado, 2010). Despite this high prevalence, previous research suggests that the public lacks adequate knowledge about TBI and endorses negative attitudes towards individuals with TBI (e.g., Ralph & Derbyshire, 2013). As a result, researchers have called for initiatives to heighten public awareness and provide education about brain injury. However, there is little research on whether such initiatives are effective. In addition, research documenting recent changes in public knowledge and attitudes about brain injury in the United States are lacking. Purpose: This dissertation has four primary goals: 1) To determine the level of knowledge about TBI among the general population and to identify predictors of knowledge, 2) To describe attitudes about TBI endorsed by the general public, to determine their relationship with knowledge, and identify predictors of attitudes, 3) To determine the relationship between attitudes and intended behaviors, and 4) To determine if an educational video will result in improved knowledge about brain injury, more favorable attitudes towards individuals with TBI, or differing intended behavior. Method: This study employed a between-groups design to evaluate public perceptions of TBI among the general public and to evaluate the impact of an educational video. A total of 392 members of the general public were randomly assigned to a control or experimental group. All participants completed a series of 4 measures: a background questionnaire containing items about demographics and prior experience with TBI, a modified version of the Common Misconceptions about TBI questionnaire, a modified version of the Multidimensional Attitude Scale, and two questions relating to intended information-seeking behaviors. Prior to completing the final three measures, participants in the experimental group viewed an educational video about TBI. Participants in the control group viewed an unrelated video. Results: Results indicated that the general public endorses a number of misconceptions about TBI, but harbors largely favorable attitudes towards individuals with TBI. On the whole, few variables related to demographic characteristic or prior TBI experiences predicted knowledge and attitudes. Similarly, only relatively weak associations between knowledge, attitudes, and intended behavior emerged. Participants who viewed the educational video demonstrated higher TBI knowledge, but did not display more favorable attitudes than participants who viewed the unrelated video. Implications: Results from this study support continued efforts to educate the public about TBI. Furthermore, continued research on public knowledge, attitudes, and behavior is needed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2015. Major: Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. Advisors: Mary Kennedy, Benjamin Munson. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 180 pages.
Public Perceptions of Traumatic Brain Injury: Knowledge, Attitudes, and the Impact of Education.
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