Original Research

Misconceptions about traumatic brain injuries among South African university students

Chrisma Pretorius, Mandi Broodryk
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 19, No 3 | a436 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v19i3.436 | © 2013 Chrisma Pretorius, Mandi Broodryk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 February 2013 | Published: 30 August 2013

About the author(s)

Chrisma Pretorius, Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa, South Africa
Mandi Broodryk, Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa, South Africa

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Objective. To investigate the incidence and type of misconceptions about traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) harboured by university students. 

Method. A convenience sample of 705 university students were recruited and data were collected using an electronic survey. The link to the survey was sent via e-mail to all registered students at Stellenbosch University. The participants had to complete the Common Misconceptions about Traumatic Brain Injury (CM-TBI) questionnaire. 

Results. The findings of this study suggest that the students subscribe to misconceptions from each of the 7 categories of misconceptions about TBIs. The mean percentages of misconceptions about TBIs were calculated and the amnesia (mean 49.7%) and unconsciousness (mean 46.1%) categories were identified as the categories about which the respondents had the most misconceptions, while the mean percentages of misconceptions were lower for the categories of recovery (mean 27.6%), rehabilitation (mean 26.56%), prevention (mean 20.8%), brain injury sequelae (mean 18.7%) and brain damage (mean 8.4%). 

Conclusion. Generally, these findings appear to be in keeping with previous literature, which suggests that misconceptions about TBIs are common among the general population. This study’s identification of these misconceptions could help create awareness, provide a focus for information provision, and contribute to the development of educational intervention programmes tailored for the South African context.


Misconceptions; Traumatic brain injury; Head injury; University students


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