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Sex, Race, and Risk of Dementia after Traumatic Brain Injury among Older Veterans


Kornblith, Erica et al. (2021), Sex, Race, and Risk of Dementia after Traumatic Brain Injury among Older Veterans, Dryad, Dataset,


Objective: To investigate whether sex and race differences exist in dementia risk associated with TBI among older Veterans.

Materials and Methods:  Using Fine-Gray regression models, we investigated incident dementia risk with TBI exposure by sex and race.

Results: After excluding baseline prevalent dementia, the final sample (all Veterans 55+ diagnosed with TBI during the 2001-2015 study period and a random sample of all Veterans receiving Veterans Health Administration care) included nearly one million Veterans (4.3% female and 81.8% White, 11.5% Black and 1.25% Hispanic), 96,178 with TBI and 903,462 without TBI.  Of those with TBI 11.5% developed dementia compared to 5.8% without TBI, p<0.001.  Compared to those without TBI, Hispanic Veterans with TBI were almost two times more likely (17.0% vs. 10.3%; HR: 1.74, 95% CI: 1.51-2.01), Black Veterans with TBI were over two times more likely (11.2% vs. 6.4%; HR=2.15, 95% CI: 2.02-2.30), and White Veterans with TBI were nearly three times more likely to develop dementia (12.0% vs. 5.9%; HR=2.71, 95% CI: 2.64-2.77).  A significant interaction between TBI and race for developing dementia was observed (p<0.001).  Both male and female Veterans with TBI were more than twice as likely (males: 11.8% vs 5.9%, HR: 2.60; 95% CI 2.54-2.66; females 6.3% vs 3.1%, HR: 2.36; 95% CI 2.08, 2.69) to develop dementia compared to those without.  There was a significant interaction effect between sex and TBI (p=0.02), but the magnitude of differences was small.  

Conclusions: In this large, nation-wide cohort of older Veterans, all race groups with TBI had increased risk of dementia, but there was an interaction effect such that White Veterans were at greatest risk for dementia following TBI.   Further research is needed to understand mechanisms for this discrepancy. Differences in dementia risk for males and females after TBI were significant but small, and male and female Veterans had similarly high risk of dementia after TBI.