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Self-report scales/checklists for the measurement of concussion symptoms: a systematic review
  1. S Alla1,
  2. S J Sullivan1,
  3. L Hale1,
  4. P McCrory2
  1. 1
    Centre for Physiotherapy Research, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. 2
    Centre for Health, Exercise & Sports Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Professor P McCrory, P O Box 93 Shoreham, Melbourne 3916, Australia; paulmccr{at}


Objective: To identify self-reported sport concussion symptom scales and to describe the psychometric properties of these identified scales.

Design: Systematic review.

Intervention: PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, Scopus, Web of Science, Sport Discus, PsycINFO and AMED were searched from their establishment until December 2008. The medical subject heading terms “brain concussion”, “signs or symptoms” and “athletic injuries”. The search was limited to articles published in English. An additional search of the reference lists of the retrieved articles was conducted. Only full-text articles were considered for this study and these were retrieved to determine whether they met the inclusion criteria.

Results: The initial search resulted in 421 articles, which were reduced to 290 articles after removing duplicates. The hand search resulted in 17 articles, thus giving a total of 307 articles. Full text was available for 295 articles of which 60 met the criteria for inclusion. The excluded 235 articles were case reports, reviews and guidelines on concussion management or studies that had not used a symptom scale or checklist.

Conclusions: Six core scales were identified with a broad range of symptom items but with limited information on their psychometric properties. There were numerous derivative scales reported, most of which have not been methodically developed or subjected to scientific scrutiny. Despite this, they do make a contribution to the detection, assessment and return to play decisions but there is a need for the clinical user to be aware that many of these scales have “evolved” rather than being scientifically developed.

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  • Competing interests: None.