Provision of concussion information from coaches and presence of athletic trainers: Findings from the 2021 YouthStyles Survey
Daugherty J, Waltzman D, Sarmiento K. J Athl Train. 2023 Jan 16. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-0454.22. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36645830.
Over 40% of adolescents participating in sports reported that their coach did not provide concussion education information to them in the past year. This lack of communication may be associated with a lack of access to athletic trainers during games and practices.
Coaches can provide concussion education and exert a positive influence, translating concussion knowledge to healthy behaviors, such as reporting suspected concussions. Coaches who complete concussion training and relay that information to their athletes positively influence an athlete’s view on concussions. However, it is unknown how often coaches discuss concussion education with the athletes or whether the presence of an athletic trainer aids in better coach-to-athlete concussion communication.
The authors used survey data to examine how often coaches provide concussion safety information to their athletes and if this varied based on the presence of athletic trainers at games and practices.
In June 2021, adolescents living with parents who are members of the Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel were invited to answer the annual YouthStyle Web-based survey. About 48% of invited adolescents completed the survey questions regarding concussion history, concussion safety information, how concerned they believe their coach is regarding concussion safety, and the frequency of athletic trainers at games and practices in the past year. The authors took statistical steps to ensure that the data represented adolescents throughout the United States.
Among 829 adolescents, 39% reported participating in sports during the past 12 months: 1) only in school-based sports (19%), 2) only in sports leagues (13%), or in both (7%). The most commonly reported sports included basketball and soccer. Almost half (47%) of youth athletes reported that their coach discussed concussions. Furthermore, 32% stated they received a handout, and 23% indicated that their coach sent them an email or had a video to watch in the past 12 months. Overall, 58% of adolescent athletes reported that their coach discussed or provided information about concussions. More youth athletes participating in school-based sports (65%) reported receiving this information compared with athletes only in non-school sports leagues (39%). About half of the youth athletes reported having an athletic trainer at practice (55%) or games (55%). Youth athletes participating in school-based sports reported more frequent access to athletic trainers (72%) than those competing on non-school-based sports teams (49%). Among youth athletes that always/sometimes had an athletic trainer, 63% reported that the coach talked to them about concussions, compared to 24% of youth athletes that rarely or never had access to athletic trainers.
Four in 10 athletes report that their coaches do not discuss concussions nor provide concussion information. The authors found that having access to an athletic trainer may increase communication between coaches and youth athletes. It would be interesting to know if the athletic trainer increases the amount of communication because they provide resources to the coaches to share with athletes. Understanding how athletic trainers can increase a coach’s concussion communication with athletes would be helpful. Furthermore, this study focused on whether the coach provided information, not the quality of that information. It would be interesting to know how well the education worked. Coaches without access to athletic trainers may provide the athletes with concussion information, but the athlete doesn’t remember it because it wasn’t helpful.
We must encourage coaches to consistently educate athletes about concussions to improve reporting behaviors among youth athletes. Furthermore, athletic trainers positively influence coach-to-youth communication. Hence, when we encourage administrators to hire full-time athletic trainers, we can remind them that athletic trainers can help coaches better communicate about concussions and other injuries to their athletes.
Questions for Discussion
Do you try to get coaches to speak to the athletes about concussion education? If so, have you seen better outcomes in communication, knowledge, and reporting behavior?
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- Center for Concussion Education And Research – Peer Concussion Education
Written by Jane McDevitt
Reviewed by Jeffrey Driban