Context: Care-seeking behaviors for sport-related concussion (SRC) are not consistent across demographic subgroups. These differences may not only stem from health inequities but can further perpetuate disparities in care for SRCs.
Objective: To determine whether racial differences exist in the care pathway from injury to SRC clinic within adolescent athletes.
Design: Retrospective cohort
Setting: Regional SRC center
Participants: Of 582 total athletes, 486 (83.5%) White and 96 (16.5%) Black adolescent athletes were diagnosed with SRC and evaluated within 3 months at the SRC clinic.
Main Outcome Measures: Race was the defined exposure, dichotomized as Black or White. The four primary outcomes included: 1)location of first health system contact, 2)time from injury to first health system contact 3) time to in-person SRC clinic visit, and 4) whether the athlete established care (>1 visit), was released immediately to an athletic trainer, or lost to follow-up.
Results: Black and White athletes mostly presented directly to SRC clinic (61.5% vs 62.3%) at a median[interquartile range] of 3[1,5] vs 4[1,8] days respectively (p=0.821). Similar proportions of Black and White athletes also first presented to the ED (30.2% vs 27.2%) at a median of 0[0,1] vs 0[0,1] days (p=0.941). Black athletes more frequently had care transferred to their athletic trainer (39.6% vs 29.6%) and less frequently established care (56.3% vs 64.0%), however these differences were not statistically significant (p=0.138). Lost to follow-up was uncommon among Black and White athletes alike (4.2% vs 6.4%).
Conclusions: This study demonstrated that within an established SRC referral network and multidisciplinary clinic, there were no observed racial disparities in how athletes were initially managed and/or ultimately presented to SRC clinic despite racial differences in school type and insurance coverage. SRC center assimilation and affiliation with school systems may be helpful in improving access and providing equitable care across diverse patient demographics.