Confidence amid misperceptions: Problem for concussion prevention?


Proper understanding of concussion injury is important in athletes' development of accurate risk perceptions and concussion prevention. The confidence associated with athletes' self-declared understanding may amplify misconception problems. Investigating how athlete self-declared understanding of concussion injury relates to grounded concussion experience and education can give insight into athlete's concrete and abstract understanding of concussion. We used a cross-sectional survey of 175 varsity athletes (60% male, mean age = 20) to explore athletes' grounded experience of concussion (direct / indirect experience, formal / informal education), their self-declared understanding of concussion, injury perceptions (severity, and control), and their objective understanding of concussion symptoms (accuracy). Analyses revealed significant relationships between athletes' concussion specific education, concussion history, and their injury understanding. Those who had received a concussion, had concussion specific education, or disclosed a greater number education sources, reported greater perceived understanding of concussion injury. Analyses revealed relationships between athletes' concussion understanding and their perception of the controllability of the injury through treatment and the cyclical nature of concussion. Those who reported a greater understanding of the injury perceived that concussion injury cannot be controlled with treatment and that concussion injury could be cyclical in nature. Higher perceived understanding did not relate to personal control of injury, accuracy of symptom recognition, viewing concussions as having long-term problems, or perceiving concussions to have more consequences. Athletes' perceived understanding of concussion can be at odds with the features of injury, which may lead to faulty prevention beliefs. Assessing injury beliefs is important for prevention programs.