PURPOSE: We performed a mediation analysis to investigate how mental fatigue mediates the relationship between cognitive functions and the return to productive activity following TBI.
METHODS: One hundred and one people (≥20 years) with first-time TBI more than 3 months who completed a series of cognitive tasks followed by Chinese versions of the Mental Fatigue Scale and Community Integration Questionnaire-Revised. Mediation analysis was used to test our hypotheses.
RESULTS: Recognition memory and information processing speed were the only cognitive functions correlated with mental fatigue (B = -0.56 and -0.37, P = .04 and < 0.001) and the return to productive activity (B = 0.69 and 0.19, both P < .001) after controlling for confounders. Mental fatigue partially mediated the associations of recognition memory and information processing speed with the return to productive activity (B = 0.15 and 0.08, P = .001 and < 0.001, proportion of mediation = 22% and 46%) after the adjustment of confounders.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that mental fatigue can partially mediate the relationship between cognitive deficits and return to productive activity. Mental fatigue can be considered a crucial, treatable mediator of the adverse effects of cognitive impairment upon return to productive activity following TBI.
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