Online Program

State legislation to address concussions in youth sports: Current status and future directions

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 1:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Gregory Tung, PhD MPH, Health Systems, Management, and Policy, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, CO
R. Dawn Comstock, PhD, Epidemiology, Pediatric Injury Prevention Education and Research Program, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, CO
Sarah Fields, JD, PhD, Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Background/Purpose: Awareness regarding the public health burden of sports related concussions among young athletes has grown substantially in recent years. In response, since 2009, 45 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation intended to address the issue of concussions in youth sports.

Methods: We conducted a policy mapping study to examine the specific components of state legislation and administered a pilot survey to assess high school coach's knowledge regarding their state's concussion legislation.

Results/Outcomes: Of the states with concussion legislation, 91% (41 of 45) specify the criteria for an athlete's removal from play, 89% (40/45) specify the criteria for an athlete's return to play, 87% (39/45) specify who can authorize return to play, 51% (23/45) require concussion education for coaches, and 76% (34/45) require concussion education for parents. Our pilot survey included 65 coaches from 30 states. Over 95% reported they had participated in a concussion education/training program. When asked to self-evaluate their knowledge regarding concussions, 7.7% reported they were very knowledgeable, 67.7% fairly knowledgeable, 23.1% somewhat knowledgeable, and 1.5% not very knowledgeable.

Conclusions: Legislation addressing concussions in youth sports has spread rapidly as recognition of the detrimental health effects associated with concussions has permeated our society. State laws have spread quickly despite a lack of evidence regarding which policy elements are effective at actually reducing the public health burden from concussions. Additional research is needed to evaluate the components of existing legislation and to develop new policy approaches to addressing concussions in youth sports.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the current state of legislation intended to address the issue of concussions in youth sports Assess the extent to which athletic coaches are knowledgeable about their states legislation and the specific requirements mandated by that legislation Discuss priorities for the future improvement of concussion legislation

Keyword(s): Injury Prevention, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a recent graduate of the PhD program in health policy at Johns Hopkins and a new faculty at the Colorado School of Public Health. My research focus is the advancement of evidence based public health policies with an additional focus on prevention based policies including injury prevention. I have several peered reviewed publications related to this topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.