Assessment of parental knowledge and attitudes toward pediatric sports-related concussions

Sports Health. 2015 Mar;7(2):124-9. doi: 10.1177/1941738115571570.


Background: Parents of young athletes play a major role in the identification and management of sports-related concussions. However, they are often unaware of the consequences of concussions and recommended management techniques.

Hypothesis: This study quantitatively assessed parental understanding of concussions to identify specific populations in need of additional education. We predicted that parents with increased education and prior sports- and concussion-related experience would have more knowledge and safer attitudes toward concussions.

Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Level of evidence: Level 5.

Methods: Participants were parents of children brought to a pediatric hospital and 4 satellite clinics for evaluation of orthopaedic injuries. Participants completed a validated questionnaire that assessed knowledge of concussion symptoms, attitudes regarding diagnosis and return-to-play guidelines, and previous sports- and concussion-related experience.

Results: Over 8 months, 214 parents completed surveys. Participants scored an average of 18.4 (possible, 0-25) on the Concussion Knowledge Index and 63.1 (possible, 15-75) on the Concussion Attitude Index. Attitudes were safest among white women, and knowledge increased with income and education levels. Previous sports experience did not affect knowledge or attitudes, but parents who reported experiencing an undiagnosed concussion had significantly better concussion knowledge than those who did not.

Conclusion: Parents with low income and education levels may benefit from additional concussion-related education.

Clinical relevance: There exist many opportunities for improvement in parental knowledge and attitudes about pediatric sports-related concussions. Ongoing efforts to understand parental knowledge of concussions will inform the development of a strategic and tailored approach to the prevention and management of pediatric concussions.

Keywords: brain concussion; knowledge; parents; pediatric sports injury; traumatic brain injury.