Concussion (mis)education: Implications of prevention narratives on youth athlete concussion experiences


In recent years, there has a considerable uptake in research exploring youth athlete experiences with sport-related concussion (SRC) education, particularly concerning media coverage (Kita et al., 2020), credible information sources (Mallory et al., 2020), and concussion recovery (Bridel et al., 2020). Notably, as Mrazik et al. (2015) describe, “more knowledge and information, particularly printed literature, does not equate with behaviour change” (p.1). Indeed, there are numerous factors which impact an individual’s knowledge uptake, regardless of the medium in which the knowledge is presented (Cusimano et al., 2017). Despite this uncertainty, education has assumed the role of a primary approach to injury prevention. This role, we argue, must be critically assessed and problematized. Specifically, we examine the repercussions of some of the most dominant forms of concussion education–those that are as static, sensationalized, and disconnected from sociocultural implications of sport participation–and the subsequent uptake and impact of this information by/on youth athletes. To do so, we draw on research that involved semi-structured interviews with youth athletes (N=28; aged 13-18-years-old) focused on understanding experiences with concussion knowledge and education. We highlight three important domains related to athletes’ experiences with concussion education concerning (1) sufficient education, (2) scare tactics in education efforts, and (3) equity, access, and responsibility. By problematizing education as an effective mode of injury prevention, we draw attention to a gap within current SRC literature concerning the intersection of education, knowledge and behaviour with the social and cultural realities of concussion experiences.