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Knowledge assessment of sports-related concussion among parents of children aged 5 years to 15 years enrolled in recreational tackle football

Mannings, Carol MD; Kalynych, Colleen MSH, EdD; Joseph, Madeline Matar MD; Smotherman, Carmen MS; Kraemer, Dale F. PhD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: September 2014 - Volume 77 - Issue 3 - p S18–S22
doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000000371
Original Articles

BACKGROUND Sports-related concussion among professional, collegiate, and, more recently, high school athletes has received much attention from the media and medical community. To our knowledge, there is a paucity of research regarding parental knowledge of sports-related concussion. The aim of this study was to evaluate parental knowledge of concussion in young children who participated in recreational tackle football.

METHODS Parents of children aged 5 years to 15 years attending recreational tackle football games were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports Quiz. The parents were asked about their level of agreement regarding statements that represent definition, symptoms, and treatment of concussion.

RESULTS A total of 310 of 369 parents (84% response rate) voluntarily completed the questionnaire, with 94% believing that their child had never had a concussion. However, only 13% (n = 41) could correctly identify all seven statements. Most did not identify that a concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury and can be achieved from something other than a direct blow to the head. Race, sex, and zip code had no significant association with correctly answering statements. Education (r = 0.24, p < 0.0001) and number of years the child played (r = 0.11, p = 0.049) had a small association. Fifty-three percent and 58% of the parents reported that someone had discussed the definition and the symptoms of concussion with them, respectively, with only about half reporting that information came from their health care provider. No parent was able to classify all symptoms listed as correctly related or not related to concussion. However, identification of correct concussion statements correlated with identification of correct symptoms (r = 0.25, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION While most parents of young athletes demonstrated some knowledge regarding concussion, important misconceptions remain regarding the definition, symptoms, and treatment of concussion. This study highlights the need for health care providers to increase concussion educational efforts.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Epidemiologic study, level II.

Supplemental digital content is available in the text.

From the Department of Emergency Medicine (C.M., C.K., M.M.J.), Center for Health Equity and Quality Research (C.S., D.F.K.), and Department of Neurology (D.F.K.), College of Medicine, University of Florida, Jacksonville, Florida.

Submitted: November 18, 2013, Revised: April 23, 2014, Accepted: May 6, 2014.

This work was presented at the 17th annual conference of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, November 9–11, 2012, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text, and links to the digital files are provided in the HTML text of this article on the journal’s Web site (

Address for reprints: Carol Mannings, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Florida, 655 West 8th Street, Jacksonville, FL 32209; email:;

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.