Abstract

Context: There is limited research concerning the relationship between social determinants of health, including race, healthcare access, socioeconomic status (SES), and physical environment; and, concussion nondisclosure in college-athletes. However, in high school athletes, disparities have been noted, with Black athletes attending under-resourced schools and lacking access to an athletic trainer (AT) disclosing fewer concussions.

Objective: To investigate whether concussion nondisclosure disparities exist by 1) race, 2) SES, and 3) AT healthcare access prior to college; and to understand the differential reasons for concussion nondisclosure between Black and White college-athletes.

Design: Cross-sectional

Setting: College athletics

Participants: 735 college-athletes (84.6% White, 15.4% Black)

Main Outcome Measures: Participants completed a questionnaire that directly assessed concussion nondisclosure, including reasons for not reporting a suspected concussion. With the premise of investigating social determinants of health, race was the primary exposure of interest. The outcome of interest, nondisclosure, was assessed with a binary (yes/no) question, “Have you ever sustained a concussion that you did not report to your coach, athletic trainer, parent, teammate, or anyone else?”

Results: Overall, among White and Black athletes 15.6% and 17.7% respectively reported a history of concussion nondisclosure. No significant differences were found by race for distributions of history of concussion nondisclosure (p=0.57). Race was not associated with concussion nondisclosure when evaluated as an effect modification measure or confounder; and, no significant associations were noted by SES or high school AT access. Differences by race for reported reasons for nondisclosure were found for: “At the time I did not think it was a concussion” (p=0.045) and “I thought my teammates would think I am weak” (p=0.03) with Black athletes reporting these more frequently than White athletes.

Conclusions: These data help to contextualize race and its intersection with other social determinants of health that could influence concussion nondisclosure outcomes in college-athletes.

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