Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2011


Cynthia R. Cimino

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This study of the diagnosis threat involved a detailed review of the background principles, theories, and research established in stereotype threat and diagnosis threat literature. This paper is constructed upon the premise that non-neuropsychological factors can influence behavior within neuropsychological assessment and subsequently impact results. Further detriment can arise when medical professionals errantly view neuropsychological assessments as a direct measure of brain function instead of recognizing their true function as a behavioral assessment. The main goal of this paper is to highlight how non-neuropsychological factors, primarily the diagnosis threat, can affect neuropsychological assessment and attempt to provide an alternative explanation for a possibly debilitating stereotype that has surrounded concussion and mild traumatic brain injury. A study conducted in the fall of 2010 at the University of South Florida tested the diagnosis threat. A total of 265 undergraduate students (182 concussed; 83 neurologically healthy) were recruited for this study. Participants with a history of concussion were assigned to one of three groups: Diagnosis Threat (DT) condition, Gender Stereotype (GS) condition, or Neutral condition (N). The 83 neurologically healthy participants served as a control group. Results indicate that history of head injury did not impact performance. However, a negative relationship was found between symptom complaints and cognitive performance such that as symptom complaints increased, cognitive performance decreased. In addition, neurologically healthy participants reported greater post-concussive symptoms than head injured patients, supporting the claim that these symptoms are not specific to head injury.