Concussion knowledge among medical students and neurology/neurosurgery residents

Can J Neurol Sci. 2012 May;39(3):361-8. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100013524.


Background and objectives: Concussion is a prevalent brain injury in the community. While primary prevention strategies need to be enhanced, it is also important to diagnose and treat concussions expertly and expeditiously to prevent serious complications that may be life-threatening or long lasting. Therefore, physicians should be knowledgeable about the diagnosis and management of concussions. The present study assesses Ontario medical students' and residents' knowledge of concussion management.

Methods: A survey to assess the knowledge and awareness of the diagnosis and treatment of concussions was developed and administered to graduating medical students (n= 222) and neurology and neurosurgery residents (n = 80) at the University of Toronto.

Results: Residents answered correctly significantly more of the questions regarding the diagnosis and management of concussions than the medical students (mean = 5.8 vs 4.1, t= 4.48, p<0.01). Gender, participation in sports, and personal concussion history were not predictive of the number of questions answered correctly. Several knowledge gaps were identified in the sample population as a whole. Approximately half of the medical students and residents did not recognize chronic traumatic encephalopathy (n = 36) or the second impact syndrome (n = 44) as possible consequences of repetitive concussions. Twenty-four percent of the medical students (n = 18) did not think that "every concussed individual should see a physician" as part of management.

Conclusions: A significant number of medical students and residents have incomplete knowledge about concussion diagnosis and management. This should be addressed by targeting this population during undergraduate medical education.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis*
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Neurology / education*
  • Neurosurgery / education*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*