Statement of Purpose Limited research specific to middle school (MS) sports on concussion prevention exists. We examined general perceptions, knowledge, attitudes, and communication constructs related to concussion prevention among MS sports stakeholders.
Methods/Approach Semi-structured interviews with coaches/school staff (n=6), parents, (n=10) and athletes (n=10) were conducted as part of a larger study throughout the 2018–2019 academic year at four North Carolina MSs. Interviews were transcribed verbatim; data were analyzed using the consensual qualitative tradition where a codebook was created using four progressive stages.
Results Three major themes were identified. First, there was a general lack of infrastructure and context surrounding sport safety and concussion prevention. Participants reported that the emphasis is on athletes simply exploring the varied sport options offered at the MS level, good sportsmanship and sport enjoyment; sport safety and concussion prevention was not a high concern. Second, there was limited awareness by stakeholders at the MS level concerning the importance of concussion prevention. Participants noted that concussion prevention is rarely discussed at the MS level and does not resonate with stakeholders. Third, there was ineffective communication between stakeholders regarding several topics, including concussion prevention. Participants noted that communication between the Athletic Directors, coaches, parents, and athletes was focused mainly on logistics, e.g., schedule changes. In addition, participants reported varied modes of communication utilized by school, of which most reportedly posed challenges for key stakeholders.
Conclusions These findings suggest a need to develop a cohesive strategy specific to the MS setting to disseminate concussion prevention information. Researchers and other MS sport stakeholders should collaborate to develop methods for sharing concussion prevention information at this level.
Significance/Contribution to Injury and Violence Prevention Science Our findings are the first to examine concussion prevention in MS sports, and highlight the need to further explore strategies to disseminate and implement concussion education.
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