The times are they a-changing? Evolving attitudes in Australian exercise science students’ attitudes towards sports concussion

Janet A Young, Charlotte Ganderton, Adam J White, John Batten, Nathan Howarth, Calum Downie, Alan J Pearce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The issue of concussion in sport continues to be discussed widely in the community as current and retired players reveal personal experiences, and concerns, about the long-term sequelae of their concussive injuries. This is the first study to examine evolving attitudes and beliefs towards concussion in sport by comparing data in an Australian exercise science student cohort between 2015 and 2020. Using a repeated cross-sectional design 1,013 participants (2020 cohort: n = 751; 21.6 ± 7.1 years; 2015 cohort: n = 312; 22.0 ± 5.2 years) responded to statements about concussion, including: personal attitudes, the media’s portrayal, elite athletes who continue to play concussed, if participants would continue to play on when concussed, and on completing rehabilitation for concussion.
Comparisons revealed statistically significant differences between cohorts across the majority of statements. Specifically, more progressive attitudes were found regarding the media presentation (glorification) of concussed athletes (decreased agreement of 14.7%, p
< 0.001), admiration of concussed athletes who continued to play (decreased agreement of 10.5%, p < 0.001), and rehabilitation (increased agreement of 13%, p < 0.001). However, participants still presented attitudes of wishing to continue to train or play if they had a
concussion for fear of letting team-mates down, or if the injury was not noticeable. While positive attitudes are evolving, more work is required, particularly as attitudes towards concussion still appear to be situation dependent.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)236-245
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Sport and Exercise Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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