Concussion Nondisclosure in Youth Sports



Document Type

Journal Article

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Publication Title

Journal of Athletic Training





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brain injuries, children, football


Context: Researchers conducting studies about sport-related concussion (SRC) reporting behaviors and reasons for nondisclosure primarily focus on older athletic populations. Youth athletes participating in contact sports are also at risk for SRC; however, little is known about their SRC disclosure patterns and reasons for nondisclosure. Objective: To examine the self-reported SRC history and reasons for SRC nondisclosure of youth athletes aged 8-14 years. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Youth athletes in organized football, ice hockey, lacrosse, or soccer. Patients or Other Participants: A total of 411 youth athletes (boys = 70.0% [n = 287/410]; median age = 11 [interquartile range = 10-13] years). Main Outcome Measure(s): A 15-minute survey including self-reported demographics, diagnosed and nondisclosed SRC history, and reasons for nondisclosure of suspected SRCs. Results: Ten percent of respondents (n = 41/411) recounted ≥ 1 diagnosed SRC, 12.7% (n = 52/411) did not report a suspected SRC, 13.1% (n = 53/404) indicated they continued to practice, and 12.3% (n=50/406) reported they continued to play in a game after a suspected SRC. Significant associations between sport and nondisclosure existed (P values < .001) but not with self-reported concussion history (P = .14). In sexcomparable analyses, boys' lacrosse players had a higher frequency of nondisclosure than girls (P = .05). The most common reasons for nondisclosure were not wanting to lose playing time (66.7%, n = 32/48), miss a game (56.3%, n = 27/ 48), and let the team down (43.8%, n = 21/48) and uncertainty over injury severity and the presence of SRC (43.8%, n=21/48). Conclusions: Ten percent of youth athletes self-reported at least 1 diagnosed SRC. However, they also described continuing to practice or play in a game after a suspected SRC. Reasons for nondisclosure at this age were similar to those reported in high school and collegiate athletes. Recent researchers suggested negative consequences of continued play with SRC, especially in the acute stages. Anyone conducting future educational initiatives should emphasize these risks and focus on reasons why athletes of both sexes withhold reporting.

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