School of Health and Human Sciences

Student-athlete concussion disclosure and coach communication within collegiate athletics

Jeff Milroy, David Wyrick, Lindsey Sanders, Erin Refisteck, Emily Beamon (11/2019)

Background Between 1.6 and 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States annually. Reports indicate that a significant number of athletes who have experienced symptoms of a potential sport-related concussion did not disclose their symptoms. Aims The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of coach communication about concussion disclosure on student-athlete intentions to disclose symptoms of a concussion and encourage another student-athlete to disclose their concussion symptoms. Methods A total of 2881 student-athletes completed a web-based survey during Fall of 2016. Multiple linear regression was conducted to primarily investigate the relationship between coach communication and intentions to disclose concussion symptoms. Secondarily, biological sex, year in school, athletic division, and sport category was also assessed. Results Coach communication predicted greater intentions to disclose symptoms to their coach, athletic trainer/sports medicine sports medicine staff member and encourage another athlete to disclose their symptoms of a concussion. Biological sex and sport category also predicted intentions to disclose concussion symptoms. Discussion Findings from this study provide support for the important role coaches play in an athlete’s regarding concussion safety and introduces preliminary evidence suggesting the impact of coach communication on athlete intentions to disclose concussion symptoms to a coach or athletic trainer/sports medicine staff member. Conclusion Future studies and behavioral interventions ought to consider the inclusion of coach communication or other coach-related variables when exploring concussion disclosure among athletes.