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Psychometric evaluation and reference values for the German Postconcussion Symptom Inventory (PCSI-SR8) in children aged 8-12 years.

BACKGROUND: Post-concussion symptoms (PCS) are a common consequence of pediatric traumatic brain injury (pTBI). They include cognitive, emotional, and physical disturbances. To address the lack of age-adapted instruments assessing PCS after pTBI, this study examines the psychometric properties of the German 17-item post-TBI version of the Postconcussion Symptom Inventory (PCSI-SR8) in children aged 8-12 years. The study also aims to establish reference values based on data from a pediatric general population sample to better estimate the prevalence and clinical relevance of PCS after pTBI in clinical and research settings.

METHODS: A total of 132 children aged 8-12 years from a post-acute TBI sample and 1,047 from a general population sample were included in the analyses. The questionnaire was translated from English into German and linguistically validated using forward and backward translation and cognitive debriefing to ensure comprehensibility of the developed version. Reliability and validity were examined; descriptive comparisons were made with the results of the English study. Measurement invariance (MI) analyses between TBI and general population samples were conducted prior to establishing reference values. Factors contributing to the total and scale scores of the PCSI-SR8 were identified using regression analyses. Reference values were calculated using percentiles.

RESULTS: Most children (TBI: 83%; general population: 79%) rated at least one symptom as "a little" bothersome. The German PCSI-SR8 met the psychometric assumptions in both samples and was comparable to the English version. The four-factor structure comprising physical, emotional, cognitive, and fatigue symptoms could be replicated. The MI assumption was retained. Therefore, reference values could be provided to determine the symptom burden of patients in relation to a comparable general population. Clinical relevance of reported symptoms is indicated by a score of 8, which is one standard deviation above the mean of the general population sample.

CONCLUSION: The German version of the PCSI-SR8 is suitable for assessment of PCS after pTBI. The reference values allow for a more comprehensive evaluation of PCS following pTBI. Future research should focus on validation of the PCSI-SR8 in more acute phases of TBI, psychometric examination of the pre-post version, and child-proxy comparisons.

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