Screening for Traumatic Brain Injury in Young Offenders: A Study of Policy Development and Policy Effects

Principal Investigator: Joshua Cantor, PhD; Co-Principal Investigator: Wayne Gordon, PhD
Project period: 2015-2017

In this project we will evaluate the implementation of a provisional TBI screening policy for young offenders in Texas. This provisional policy was enacted by the Office of Acquired Brain Injury (OABI) of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) in collaboration with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD). A major goal is to establish an evidence basis in support of TJJD’s development of policies for TBI injury control (including primary, secondary and tertiary prevention) in juvenile offender populations, by analyzing data on the relationship between TBI and violent/criminal behavior. The project will provide technical reports to an expert policy advisory panel convened by the Texas OABI to recommend policy for brain injury screening in juvenile justice settings.

To accomplish these goals several activities will be carried out:

  • An assessment of the implementation of the provisional TBI screening policy (including barriers and facilitators) will be accomplished by interviewing those responsible for enactment of the policy at a state level and at each site, and by determining the number of youth screened and changes in services provided as a result of screening.
  • An analysis will be conducted of a TJJD database containing information on TBI history and criminal history (including sanctions and types of services received) in a large sample of young offenders screened for TBI using the Brain Injury Screening Questionnaire (BISQ; developed by the BIRC-MS) in Texas (2009 – 2013). The analysis will focus on describing the relationship between TBI history (number of TBIs, TBI severity, age of onset of TBI) and criminal history, and on examining moderators and modifiers of this relationship, such as substance abuse and psychiatric disorders.
  • A comprehensive literature review will be carried out summarizing research findings and policy developments related to brain injury screening in young offenders.
  • The findings of these analyses and reviews will be compiled into a report and submitted for review by an expert policy advisory panel to be convened by OABI, composed of stakeholders and experts on TBI, injury control and juvenile justice. This panel will be tasked by OABI with recommending (revised) policy for TBI screening in young offenders.
  • Dissemination of the report and the recommendations will be widely implemented, not only within Texas, e.g., Texas HHSC Commissioners, TJJD, but also to directors of all state juvenile justice agencies, the U.S. Justice Department and others.

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Brain Injury Research Center of Mount Sinai
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New York, NY 10029
888-241-5152

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Please email: margaret.brown@mssm.edu

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