Exploration of awareness, knowledge, and perceptions of traumatic brain injury among American youth athletes and their parents

J Adolesc Health. 2013 Jul;53(1):34-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.01.022. Epub 2013 Apr 11.


Purpose: Although much effort is underway by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations to highlight the seriousness of traumatic brain injury, including concussions, among young athletes, little is known about how these athletes and their parents view this injury and how much they know about it.

Methods: Online surveys were conducted with youth who participate in sports (n = 252) and with the parents of youth who participate in sports (n = 300) to explore the ways in which these audiences view concussion and messaging related to concussion.

Results: More than four out of five youth and parents reported that they had heard about concussions, although awareness was significantly higher for some subgroups, including parents of children 10-13 years old, and parents who reported using the Internet several times daily. Youth ages 13-15 years were significantly more likely to strongly agree that concussions are a "critical issue," as compared with youth ages 16-18 years. Among parents, significantly more mothers than fathers agreed that concussions are a critical issue. More than half of youth participants strongly disagreed that their friends would think they were "dumb for caring about concussions," with girls significantly more likely to strongly disagree than boys. When parents were asked to identify organizations they would trust as a reliable source of information for concussions, the most frequently cited organization was the CDC.

Conclusions: Results of this study demonstrate a high level of awareness about concussion among youth athletes and parents of youth athletes. However, important distinctions among subgroups of both youth and parents-such as by race/ethnicity, age, sex, and Internet use-suggest directions for future communication and research efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletes* / statistics & numerical data
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Awareness
  • Brain Concussion / prevention & control
  • Brain Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • United States
  • Young Adult