To examine psychotropic and pain medication use in a population-based cohort of individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI), and compare them with controls from similar backgrounds.
We assessed Swedish nationwide registers to include all individuals diagnosed with incident TBI between 2006 and 2012 in hospitals or specialist outpatient care. Full siblings never diagnosed with TBI acted as controls. We examined dispensed prescriptions for psychotropic and pain medications for the 12 months before and after the TBI.
We identified 239 425 individuals with incident TBI, and 199 658 unaffected sibling controls. In the TBI cohort, 36.6% had collected at least one prescription for a psychotropic or pain medication in the 12 months before the TBI. In the 12 months after, medication use increased to 45.0%, an absolute rate increase of 8.4% (p<0.001). The largest post-TBI increases were found for opioids (from 16.3% to 21.6%, p<0.001), and non-opioid pain medications (from 20.3% to 26.6%, p<0.001). The majority of prescriptions were short-term; 20.6% of those prescribed opioids and 37.3% of those with benzodiazepines collected prescriptions for more than 6 months. Increased odds of any psychotropic or pain medication were associated with individuals before (OR: 1.62, 95% CI: 1.59 to 1.65), and after the TBI (OR: 2.30, 95% CI: 2.26 to 2.34) as compared with sibling controls, and ORs were consistently increased for all medication classes.
High rates of psychotropic and pain medications after a TBI suggest that medical follow-up should be routine and review medication use.