Exploring Sandbagging Behaviors, Effort, and Perceived Utility of the ImPACT Baseline Assessment in College Athletes

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Baseline computerized neurocognitive testing (CNT) is a commonly used tool for the assessment and management of sport-related concussion (SRC). Research on the frequency of sandbagging behaviors and suboptimal effort on baseline CNT is limited, and contributing factors to these behaviors are unknown. This study described the prevalence of sandbagging behaviors on baseline CNT in college athletes and also identified predictors of maximal effort. A descriptive, quantitative survey was used to gather information from 178 college athletes (M = 19.05, SD = 1.16 years; range 18–23 years; 53% female) immediately after completing a baseline CNT. The survey included questions regarding demographics, effort provided, sandbagging behaviors, and perceived utility of the CNT baseline assessment. Six percent of athletes reported a history of sandbagging behavior, and nearly a third of athletes reported they did not provide maximal effort on their CNT baseline test. A logistic regression examining sex, concussion history, previous text exposure, and perceived utility of the baseline test was significant, χ2(4, 166) = 15.85, p < .001. Athletes who perceived very high utility of the baseline CNT assessment were 4.94 times (95% confidence interval [1.91–12.69]) more likely to provide maximal effort on their CNT baseline (relative risk = 2.95× more likely; 95% CI [1.41–6.15]). These data suggest that the prevalence of sandbagging behavior is not as common as previously reported, and educating athletes about the utility of the baseline CNT may improve effort.

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