Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Stuart Hall

Commitee Members

Dr. Craig McFarland, Dr. Allen Szalda-Petree, Dr. Annie Sondag


mTBI, concussion, terminology, expectations


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Other Psychology


The terms mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or concussion may evoke different expectations for people who sustain such an injury. Expectations are important because previous researchers have demonstrated that expected symptoms at the time of injury were the best predictors of actual symptoms post-injury. The current study investigated the effect of terminology on various outcome expectations. Participants also reported their familiarity with the terminology. Participants read a vignette depicting a person sustaining an mTBI in a motor vehicle accident. A relevant diagnosis – concussion or mTBI – was relayed at the end of the vignette. No diagnosis was relayed for the control group. The results demonstrated that there was an effect of terminology on expected symptoms, F(2, 129) = 3.17, p = .045. Post-hoc analyses revealed that “concussion,” relative to no diagnosis, was associated with greater expected symptoms. There was no effect of terminology on expected length of recovery timeline, self-efficacy to control the symptoms and recovery of the injury, consequences of the injury, negative changes in life perspective, or undesirability of the injury. There was an effect of terminology on expected positive changes in life perspective, H(2) = 6.38, p = .04. Post-hoc analyses revealed that “mTBI,” relative to no diagnosis, was associated with greater positive changes in life perspective. Participants were more familiar with “concussion” relative to “mTBI,” but greater familiarity had no effect on expectations. Findings from this study reveal that there is a substantial lack of clarity surrounding brain injuries, and terminology evokes quite varied expectations on different people.



© Copyright 2016 Meredith K. Reynolds