Objective: To (a) identify post-concussion symptom scales appropriate for children and adolescents in sports; (b) review evidence for reliability and validity; and (c) recommend future directions for scale development.
Design: Quantitative and qualitative literature review of symptom rating scales appropriate for children and adolescents aged 5 to 22 years.
Intervention: Literature identified via search of Medline, Ovid-Medline and PsycInfo databases; review of reference lists in identified articles; querying sports concussion specialists. 29 articles met study inclusion criteria.
Results: 5 symptom scales examined in 11 studies for ages 5–12 years and in 25 studies for ages 13–22. 10 of 11 studies for 5–12-year-olds presented validity evidence for three scales; 7 studies provided reliability evidence for two scales; 7 studies used serial administrations but no reliable change metrics. Two scales included parent-reports and one included a teacher report. 24 of 25 studies for 13–22 year-olds presented validity evidence for five measures; seven studies provided reliability evidence for four measures with 18 studies including serial administrations and two examining Reliable Change.
Conclusions: Psychometric evidence for symptom scales is stronger for adolescents than for younger children. Most scales provide evidence of concurrent validity, discriminating concussed and non-concussed groups. Few report reliability and evidence for validity is narrow. Two measures include parent/teacher reports. Few scales examine reliable change statistics, limiting interpretability of temporal changes. Future studies are needed to fully define symptom scale psychometric properties with the greatest need in younger student-athletes.
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Competing interests: Dr Gioia is a co-author of the ACE and PCSI. No authors have competing financial interests.
Funding: This paper was supported in part by grants from the CDC # U17/CCU323352-01, NIH # 5-M01-RR-020359-02, and NIH # P30/HDO40677-07.