Attitudes and Counseling Practices of Pediatricians Regarding Youth Sports Participation and Concussion Risks

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Abstract

Objective

To examine attitudes and practices of pediatricians toward sports-related head trauma and youth participation in tackle football and ice hockey.

Study design

A respondent-anonymous electronic survey was distributed 3 times to members of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section of Bioethics, Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, and Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness.

Results

Of 791 eligible pediatricians, 227 (29%) responded. Most respondents (189/223; 85%) treat sports-related concussions, among whom 83% (137/165) reported access to an established return-to-play protocol within their practice. Virtually all (160/166; 96%) reported increased parental awareness/concern regarding concussions and 85% (139/163) reported increased visits for head trauma. Overall, 77% (140/183) would not allow their son to play tackle football and 35% (64/181) and 34% (63/184) would not allow their son or daughter, respectively, to participate in ice hockey. Most respondents endorsed limiting or eliminating tackling (143/176; 81%) and checking (144/179; 80%) from practice. Respondents were evenly divided in their support for counseling against youth participation in full-contact sports, with 48% in favor (87/180).

Conclusions

Most respondents would not allow their own child to play tackle football and endorsed limiting or eliminating tackling in practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics should consider recommending restrictions on tackling in football to support the current concussion concerns of its members.

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