Profile of brief symptom inventory-18 (BSI-18) scores in collegiate athletes: A CARE Consortium study

Thomas W. McAllister*, Rachel Kenny, Jaroslaw Harezlak, Jody Harland, Michael A. McCrea, Paul Pasquina, Steven P. Broglio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The goal of this study was to characterize normative scores for the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI-18) in collegiate athletes to inform decision making about the need for psychological health services in this group. Methods: Collegiate student-athletes (N = 20,034) from 25 universities completed the BSI-18 at their preseason baseline assessment. A subgroup (n = 5,387) underwent multiple baseline assessments. Global Severity Index (GSI) scores were compared to community norms and across multiple timepoints. Results: Collegiate athletes reported significantly lower GSI scores than published community norms (p<.001). Published GSI threshold scores for “caseness”, identified only 2 per 100 athletes (≥ the 98th percentile) as needing further evaluation. Using a GSI score ≥ than the cohort’s 90th percentile, 11.4 per 100 athletes would merit additional evaluation. These individuals were more likely to report a history of psychiatric diagnosis (Odds ratio [95% CI] 2.745 [2.480, 3.039]), as well as ≥ 2 prior concussions (p<.001). GSI scores were not highly correlated across timepoints. Suicidal ideation was rare (n = 230; 1.15%). Conclusions: For collegiate student-athletes, published BSI-18 threshold scores identify only extreme outliers who might benefit from additional behavioral health evaluation. Alternatively, use of threshold scores ≥ the 90th percentile identifies a more realistic 11.4% of the population, with higher likelihood of prior concussion and/or psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Brief symptom inventory-18
  • collegiate athlete psychological health
  • psychological health
  • sport-related concussion


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