Objective: Children and adolescents with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at increased risk for developing social incompetence and impairment in broad psychosocial functioning. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between history of TBI, social competence, and broad psychosocial functioning using meta-analytic methods. Methods: Studies relating to social outcome following pediatric TBI were searched for using scientific, academic databases. Sixteen studies (N=2,005) met inclusion criteria, and relevant data relating to social functioning was extracted. Meta-analytic methods were used in order to obtain Hedges's g effect size data for mild, moderate, and severe TBI groups. Meta-regressions were also used to examine the effect of potential moderating variables, including Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), socioeconomic status (SES), gender, control group (typically developing (TD) or orthopedic injury (OI)), and time/age related variables. Finally, publication bias was calculated using funnel plots and Rosenthal's fail-safe N. Results: A dose-response effect was observed with mild (Hedges's g = -0.387), and moderate (Hedges's g = -0.459) groups demonstrating smaller effects when compared to the severe group (-0.814) on measures of broad psychosocial function. A dose-response effect was also observed on measures of social competence, with mild (Hedges's g = -0.098) and moderate (Hedges's g = -0.450) TBI groups demonstrating smaller effect sizes when compared to the severe TBI group (Hedges's g = -0.832). The GCS was a significant predictor of both broad psychosocial functioning (B = 0.065, p < 0.001) and social competence (B = 0.079, p < 0.001), such that more severe injuries predicted poorer social outcomes. Gender was a significant predictor of effect size (B = 0.018, p = 0.05), such that higher proportions of females was associated with smaller effect sizes. Finally, the type of control group used in these studies was also a significant predictor of effect size (B = 0.369, p = 0.03), such that studies that used TD produced larger effect sizes when compared to studies that used OI. Overall, there was little evidence for publication bias. Conclusions: Children and adolescents with a history of TBI demonstrated significant differences from their peers in social competence and broad psychosocial functioning following TBI. The severity of the injury is important in understanding and predicting social outcomes following pediatric TBI. Implications of these findings are discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





traumatic brain injury, social, meta-analysis, children, adolescents