One in two people who are homeless may have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in their lifetime, according to a study published in the Lancet Public Health.
The study authors say healthcare workers need to have increased awareness of the burden and associated effects of TBI in people who are homeless.
As part of a systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers examined data from 38 studies to assess the prevalence of TBI in people who are homeless or in unstable housing situations.
The authors estimated that the lifetime prevalence of any severity of TBI in homeless and marginally housed individuals (21 studies; n=11,417) was 53.4 per cent and the lifetime prevalence of moderate or severe TBI (12 studies; n=6,302) was 24.9 per cent.
They speculated that the lifetime prevalence of TBI in this population could potentially be between 2.5 times and four times higher than in the general population, while the prevalence of moderate or severe TBI could be nearly 10-times higher.
“Given the high prevalence of moderate or severe TBI, and the considerable number of individuals with evidence of traumatically-induced lesions visible with MRI, the threshold for referral to neuroimaging specialists after head injury should be reduced in this population,” they said.