The recognition and management of concussion has become a major health concern within rugby union. Identifying misconceptions and attitudes regarding concussion is valuable for informing player education. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the knowledge of, and attitudes towards, concussion in subgroups of youth rugby players.
Information sheets and consent forms were distributed at training sessions for multiple teams at each of three schools and three clubs. Players who returned consent forms completed a custom-designed survey at a subsequent session.
Two hundred and fifty-five English players, aged 11-17 years, completed the anonymous survey. Sixty-one participants reported a total of 77 concussions. Self-reported return to play ranged from 0 to 365 days; only seven players (11%) reported a return to play after the Rugby Football Union's recommendation of 23 days. Although the majority of findings relating to players' knowledge of concussion were positive, a number of important misunderstandings were revealed. While the majority of players reported positive attitudes towards concussion, a substantial minority (up to 30%) reported inappropriate attitudes in response to specific questions. Participants who played at multiple venues did report superior knowledge and attitudes relative to their peers who played at a single venue.
Despite generally positive results, youth rugby players were found to hold a number of misconceptions regarding concussion which should be the focus for education initiatives. Considering general subgroups of players by concussion history, age, or playing position appears unlikely to enhance the design of concussion education programmes.