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Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that result from "brain shaking" that can occur during any situation that transmits force to the head. Concussions are defined as a clinical syndrome characterized by immediate and transient post-traumatic impairment of neural functions which lead to a complex grouping of both psychological and physiological symptoms (McCrory, et al., 2013). As knowledge of the long-term implications of these injuries grows, concussions are becoming more of a major health concern worldwide. One subset of concussion classifications, sports-related concussions, is receiving an increasing amount of attention from both scientists and health-care practitioners. It is estimated that more than 3.8 million sport-related concussions occur annually in the United States alone, and some studies suggest that up to 43% of these go unreported and untreated (Harmon et al., 2013; Torres et al., 2013).

To gain insight into why sports-related concussions may go unreported, we created a survey to determine the influence of race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic factors on the underreporting of concussions among NCAA athletes. The survey consisted of questions designed to gauge an individual's experience with and general knowledge of concussions, and to determine any discrepancies between ideal and actual behavior when faced with a hypothetical situation involving concussion-like symptoms. The objectives of this survey were to 1) determine if there was a correlation between gender/socioeconomic status and the likelihood of an athlete reporting a concussion to receive treatment and 2) identify groups that were potentially "at-risk" of intentionally failing to report a concussive injury. We hypothesized that a significant amount of reporting behavior differences would exist between subsets of athletes, due, in part, to race, ethnicity, sport type, gender and socioeconomic status. These objectives were met by comparing the responses between different groups, and interpreting open-ended responses using two a priori theories; the theory of planned behavior and the theory of normalization.

Gender had a significant effect on concussion reporting behavior, while race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status had no significant effect. There were no differences found in behavior between sport types, with the exception that athletes who participated in football had significantly lower concussion reporting ratios than non-football athletes. No significant difference was found between genders and socioeconomic groups regarding the additional measures of "Bell-ringer" event reporting behavior or concussion symptom reporting behavior.

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Faculty Mentor

Breanna Studenka

Departmental Honors Advisor

Eadric Bressel

Capstone Committee Member

Travis Dorsch