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Does the way concussion is portrayed affect public awareness of appropriate concussion management: the case of rugby league
  1. Tracey L McLellan1,
  2. Audrey McKinlay1,2
  1. 1Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  2. 2School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Tracey McLellan, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand; tracey.mclellan{at}


It is important to identify factors that might adversely affect appropriate medical consultation and management of concussion. One factor that might present a barrier to timely intervention is media portrayal of concussion in sporting events, such as professional rugby league. Accordingly, the current study employed a surveillance method of publicly available broadcast information to establish the incidence rate of probable concussion in the National Rugby League's Telstra Premiership 2010 season and examined how these injury events were shown to be managed with respect to return-to-play procedures. The incident rate for probable concussion was higher than previously reported: 11.10\1000 player hours (95% CI 5.78 to 16.40) and was likely underestimated. Importantly, most injured players were shown to continue playing or return to play despite being visibly concussed and described as such by the commentary team. Although ‘return-to-play decisions’ for professional players are guided by medical assessment, the authors discuss whether the way concussion is portrayed might affect public awareness of appropriate concussion management.

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  • Funding The current study was funded by the Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.