Cultural Considerations in Assessment of Brain Injury after Interpersonal Violence

Sarah Raskin, Trinity College, Hartford, United States
Jocelyn Moran, Trinity College, Hartford, United States
Skyler Simpkins, Trinity College, Hartford, United States


The potential for traumatic brain injury (TBI) to occur as the result of intimate partner violence (IPV) has received increased interest in recent years. This study sought to investigate the effect of culture on the experience of TBI in a group of women who survived IPV using standardized neuropsychological measures in Spanish and English speakers.

Participants and Methods:

Participants were between the ages of 20-65 and included one group (N=50) who were English speaking and tested in English. The other group (N=50) were Spanish speakers who had cultural ties with Puerto Rico, Central America, and South America and tested in Spanish. A comprehensive questionnaire about abuse history; neuropsychological measures of attention (digit span), memory (auditory verbal learning test) and executive functioning (color word association); and measures of depression (Beck Depression Inventory), anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory) and post-traumatic stress symptoms (Impact of Events) and a screening measure of TBI (HELPS) were given to women who were IPV survivors.


Overall, rates of potential TBI, as measured by the HELPS brain injury screening tool, were high and were higher in the Spanish speaking group (95%). There was a statistically significant difference between the groups on the dependent variable of memory after controlling for the emotion component, F(1, 99) = 21.15, p < .01, partial η2 = .48 such that the English speaking group had higher scores.  There was also a statistically significant difference between the groups for executive functioning after controlling for emotion, F (1, 99)=29.15, p<.01, partial η2=.32 such that the Spanish speaking group had higher scores.


Cultural and/or language differences may exist in the etiology and symptoms of brain injury after IPV.  This suggests that specific trauma-informed interventions need to be created with cultural humility.

Category: Acquired Brain Injury (TBI/Cerebrovascular Injury and Disease - Adult)

Keyword 1: traumatic brain injury
Keyword 2: cognitive screening
Keyword 3: acculturation