Parents of children in sports' perceptions of concussion injury and intentions towards protective behaviours


Parents are major contributors in preventing and managing concussion injury in their children. How parents' attitudes and perceptions of concussion influence the promotion of protective behaviour in their children is not well understood. This study assessed concussion-related attitudes and beliefs of parents with children registered in various sports using Leventhal's Common Sense Model of Health Representations. One hundred and twelve parents (73 females, 39 males, mean age 42.12±6.61 years) of children (mean child age 10.08±4.27 years, average 4.54±2.29 total sports, 1.66±1.02 contact sports) sampled from rugby, hockey, judo and swimming organizations completed a survey about their concussion perceptions and attitudes and intentions towards concussion-protective behaviours. Concussion risk was an accepted feature of sport participation by 40% of participants. Participants were reluctant to discourage their children from playing contact and competitive sports. Participants with concussion education exposure perceived concussion as more likely and serious. Parents whose children had experienced concussion saw concussion as more likely, had lower beliefs that protective measures would reduce concussion risk or that treatment would be effective in managing concussion. Severity and likelihood perceptions were positively related to worry but not directly related to intentions. Protective measure efficacy was positively related to intentions towards personal protective behaviours and limiting involvement in contact sports and negatively related to risk perceptions. Among this sample, concussion injury was a recognized feature of sport participation and concussion education and direct concussion experience differentiated concussion beliefs. Parents need clear information on concussion-protection measure efficacy to form accurate risk perception beliefs.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Millbrook Minor Hockey, Peterborough Rugby and the Trent Sport and Recreation Complex for their support of this project.