Examining the perspectives of Massachusetts' highs school coaches concerning sports-related concussions and state mandated concussion education
Madden, Meredith Jill
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Background: The primary purpose of this study was to explore the knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of Massachusetts' high school coaches who have completed mandated training relating to concussion recognition, management, and legislation. The second purpose was to examine their opinions on the effectiveness of state approved concussion education. Participants: High school coaches from Massachusetts' Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) schools who have completed at least one season of coaching. Coaches from various sports were recruited for quantitative survey data (n = 104) and coaches from high concussion risk sports were recruited for qualitative interviews (n = 12). Methods: This study utilized a mixed methods research design, with an emphasis on qualitative methods. Interviews were conducted for qualitative data collection about the attitudes towards sports-related concussions and current concussion management practices of MIAA high school coaches. A survey was used to collect quantitative data about MIAA high school coaches' knowledge regarding concussions, concussion legislation, awareness about the risks of concussions, and perceived self-efficacy in managing concussion scenarios. Results: Major findings indicate that participants demonstrate only average levels of concussion knowledge and lack a sufficient understanding of how to practically apply that knowledge. Most participants report prudent attitudes towards player safety, but also acknowledge a "winning-oriented" youth sport culture. Many participants perceived themselves as knowledgeable and confident when handling concussions, but at the same time they believe athletic trainers or healthcare professionals should bear the primary responsibility for managing concussions. Remarkably, very few participants perceived current concussion education to be effective in changing coaching practices regarding concussions. Instead they report the most influential sources of information are personal or coaching experiences, the media, or in-person trainings. Conclusions: High school coaches are not qualified to make concussion management decisions due to their partial understanding of proper concussion care and several conflicts of interest that exist in current sport culture exposed by this study. Therefore, coaches' appropriate responsibility should be to establish and maintain a safe sporting environment. Additionally, the design and delivery of concussion education must be improved so that all coaches will possess the critical skills necessary to effectively implement appropriate concussion management protocols.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston University