Examining Concussion Nondisclosure in Collegiate Athletes Using a Health Disparities Framework and Consideration of Social Determinants of Health



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Athletic Training





First Page


Last Page





Race, Socioeconomic status, Traumatic brain injuries


Context: Limited research exists concerning the relationship between the social determinants of health (SDOHs), including race, socioeconomic status (SES), health care access and physical environment and concussion nondisclosure in collegiate athletes. However, among high school athletes, disparities have been noted, with Black athletes who attended under-resourced schools and lacked access to an athletic trainer (AT) disclosing fewer concussions. Objective: To investigate whether concussion nondisclosure disparities existed by (1) race, (2) SES, or (3) AT health care access before college and understand the differential reasons for concussion nondisclosure between White and Black collegiate athletes. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Collegiate athletics. Participants: A total of 735 college athletes (84.6% White, 15.4% Black). Main Outcome Measure(s): Participants completed a questionnaire that directly assessed concussion nondisclosure, including reasons for not reporting a suspected concussion. With the premise of investigating SDOHs, race was the primary exposure of interest. The outcome of interest, nondisclosure, was assessed with a binary (yes or no) question, "Have you ever sustained a concussion that you did not report to your coach, AT, parent, teammate, or anyone else?" Results: Among the White and Black athletes, 15.6% and 17.7%, respectively, reported a history of concussion nondisclosure. No differences were found by race for distributions of history of concussion nondisclosure (P = .57). Race was not associated with concussion nondisclosure when evaluated as an effect modification measure or confounder, and no significant associations were noted by SES or high school AT access. Differences by race for reported reasons for nondisclosure were present for "At the time, I did not think it was a concussion" (P = .045) and "I thought my teammates would think I am weak" (P = .03), with Black athletes selecting these more frequently than White athletes. Conclusions: These data help to contextualize race and its intersection with other SDOHs that could influence concussion nondisclosure outcomes in collegiate athletes.

Open Access

Green Final