How do parents of preadolescent football players really feel about concussion education and the risk of concussion injuries?
The effects of repetitive injuries to the brain in collegiate and professional athletes have received much attention in the media and sports world in the past few years due to the tragic deaths of retired athletes. Autopsies have revealed extensive damage to the brains of these athletes that has been directly linked to their participation in high-impact sports. Increased awareness and recognition of this disease process has occurred in recent years, and this condition has become known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Concussions are the most common type of traumatic brain injury, with an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million concussion injuries annually that are related to participation in sports and recreational activities. The majority of concussion injuries do not result in a loss of consciousness. However, these injuries can lead to cognitive and physical deficits that intensify with repeated injuries
While much attention has been given to increasing education and awareness of concussion injuries in high-school and college athletes, there has been very little information targeting concussion education in young athletes. This study focused on parents’ perception of risk of concussion injuries in 8-13-year-old boys playing select football in the DFW area. The purpose of this study was: (a) to examine the relationship between parents’ educational attainment, previous experience playing sports, knowledge of concussion injuries, and perceived risk of their sons sustaining a concussion injury while participating in select football, and (b) to explore parents’ perceptions about concussion injury risk and concussion injury education and prevention.
A previously published survey was adapted to a paper/pencil survey focused on parents’ perceptions of risk of their sons incurring a concussion injury while playing select football. A convenience sample was utilized by the researcher at select football games and practices to recruit parents/caregivers for self-administration of the survey which could be completed in 10-15 minutes. Twenty-three Likert-scale questions were divided into the six constructs of the Health Belief Model (HBM): perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, self-efficacy, and cues to action. Fourteen questions were used to gather demographic information and five additional open-ended question were used to enrich the data results. Ninety-nine surveys were collected and analyzed using ANOVAs and correlation analysis to examine relationships between the parents’ educational attainment, previous experience playing sports, and knowledge of concussion injuries with the parents’ perceived risk of concussion injury in their 8-13-year-old sons playing select football.
Results indicated that knowledge of concussion injuries was the only independent variable that had a significant effect on one of the HBM constructs which was self-efficacy (p < .001). This finding was significant in that no other variables impacted a parent’s perception about the risk of concussion injury other than the parent having received concussion education. Responses to the open-ended questions showed a wide range of opinions and attitudes towards concussion education resources and confirmed the need for resources to be presented in a wide variety of formats on an on-going basis for parents, coaches, medical personnel, and the athletes.