College athletes consider impact of reporting concussions on their team and their sporting prospects, as well as their health, suggested study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Steven Corman of Arizona State University, USA, and colleagues.
Awareness of concussions as a problem in college sports, as well as the medical impacts of concussions, has increased in recent years. Because many symptoms are internal--such as difficulty thinking, blurry vision, and fatigue--athletes must recognize and report symptoms for treatment to be effective. Current intervention efforts rely on athletes acting self-protectively in reporting concussion symptoms; however leaders in collegiate sports, such as the NCAA, remain concerned about low rates of reporting.
In this study, 401 male and female athletes who played Division I football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, lacrosse, or field hockey at one of 11 participating universities in a Power 5 conference completed a web-based survey asking about their vested interests and risk perceptions related to concussions and severe head impacts. In addition, 90 qualitative interviews were conducted with athletes, coaching staff, and athletic directors to determine organizational and team culture when it comes to concussion education, processes, and communication dynamics.
Athletes were recruited by availability rather than randomly sampled, and the study's reliance on qualitative methods and self-reporting risks bias in the collection and interpretation of results. Additionally, the study included basketball athletes; basketball has lower concussion risk than the other sports. It's not clear whether the findings specific to basketball are generalizable to sports with higher concussion risks. Nonetheless, this study provides initial evidence about the factors which college athletes may weigh when making decisions about reporting concussions and could inform future educational efforts.