The Relationship between Sport-Related Concussion and Sensation-Seeking

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 30;21(23):9097. doi: 10.3390/ijms21239097.


Sensation-seeking, or the need for novel and exciting experiences, is thought to play a role in sport-related concussion (SRC), yet much remains unknown regarding these relationships and, more importantly, how sensation-seeking influences SRC risk. The current study assessed sensation-seeking, sport contact level, and SRC history and incidence in a large sample of NCAA collegiate athletes. Data included a full study sample of 22,374 baseline evaluations and a sub-sample of 2037 incident SRC. Independent samples t-test, analysis of covariance, and hierarchical logistic regression were constructed to address study hypotheses. Results showed that (1) among participants without SRC, sensation-seeking scores were higher in athletes playing contact sports compared to those playing limited- or non-contact sports (p < 0.001, R2 = 0.007, η2p = 0.003); (2) in the full study sample, a one-point increase in sensation-seeking scores resulted in a 21% greater risk of prior SRC (OR = 1.212; 95% CI: 1.154-1.272), and in the incident SRC sub-sample, a 28% greater risk of prior SRC (OR = 1.278; 95% CI: 1.104-1.480); (3) a one-point increase in sensation-seeking scores resulted in a 12% greater risk of incident SRC among the full study sample; and (4) sensation-seeking did not vary as a function of incident SRC (p = 0.281, η2p = 0.000). Our findings demonstrate the potential usefulness of considering sensation-seeking in SRC management.

Keywords: college athletes; concussion; concussion management and care; sensation-seeking.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Sports*
  • Young Adult