Harris Poll Release

Most Americans Unaware Concussions Affect Women More than Men, National Survey Finds

Majorities believe more research and education necessary to ensure athletes’ safety

Washington, DC (Oct. 5, 2016) – The majority of Americans are not aware that concussions affect males and females differently, and that females actually suffer from a higher rate of concussions than males in similar sports, according to a national survey in a new report by the Women Sports Safety Initiative, a special project fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation dedicated to advancing the lives of women and girls by raising awareness of sports-related injuries.

Women and girls suffer higher rates of concussions, take longer to recover from the injuries, and are often more severely impacted due to hormonal differences, according to recent research compiled from medical and athletic-training journals by the Women’s Sports Safety Initiative in a new report titled Sports-Related Concussions: Changing the Game for Women and Sports.

“Concussions are routinely viewed as an issue affecting male athletes, but a significant number of female athletes also experience serious head injuries,” said Mary Hayashi, project director of the Women’s Sports Safety Initiative. “We need a better understanding of why women and girls are suffering from more concussions in similar sports, and we need to make sure this issue is getting the attention it deserves from both legislators and researchers alike.”

The report’s survey data—collected online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Women’s Sports Safety Initiative in September 2016 among 2,025 adults, including nearly 500 parents of children under 18—showed that majorities are either misinformed or unaware of the facts relating to the impact of concussions on women and girls. A strong majority also believes that more research and guidelines are necessary to ensure the safety of all athletes.
Key findings include:

Knowledge and Awareness
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) are not aware that concussions affect men and women differently;
  • Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) are not aware that males do not suffer a higher rate of concussions than females in similar sports, including 2 out of 5 (41%) who mistakenly believe men actually suffer from a higher rate;
  • 80 percent did not know that concussions can be more severe based on hormonal differences; and,
  • Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) don’t know that female athletes take longer than males to recover from concussions.
Education and Resources
  • The majority of Americans want to learn more about concussions, with only 29 percent of Americans saying they believe they know all they need to know.
  • 42 percent do not know where to turn for reliable information.
Research and Guidelines
  • About three out of four U.S. adults (76%) believe more money should be dedicated to research on the impact of concussions on women.
  • A vast majority (89%) agree that more guidelines should be put into place to ensure athletes’ safety when returning to play after suffering a concussion.
Parents’ Views
  • Three in four parents of kids under 18 (75%) worry about concussions when their children play sports.
  • 9 in 10 (90%) advocate for more guidelines to ensure athletes’ safety when returning to play after suffering a concussion.
  • Nearly 4 in 5 (78%) believe more money should be dedicated to research on the impact of concussions on women.

“Knowledge and understanding of concussions have grown over the years, but there is still much that is unknown about these injuries and their repercussions, specifically for female athletes,” Hayashi said. “We know women suffer higher incidence in men, now we need to find out why.” We need to establish better data collection system to improve gender and age appropriate prevention and treatment guidelines, Hayashi added.

The Women’s Sports Safety Initiative is advocating more research and guidelines on the state and federal level. Among its goals are requiring concussion-recognition training in coaches, developing guidelines outlining best practices for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of concussions for female athletes, increasing research to determine why women concuss at a higher rate than men, and developing a better data collection system to identify trends in female and male athletes.

To learn more and to read the full report, click here.

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Survey Methodology

The Concussion Awareness survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the Women’s Sports Safety Initiative between September 8-12, 2016 among 2,025 adults ages 18+, including 496 parents of children under the age of 18. For complete research method, including subgroup sample sizes and weighing variables, please contact Lauren Musiol at lmusiol@thereisgroup.com.

About the Women’s Sports Safety Initiative

The Women’s Sports Safety Initiative is dedicated to advancing the lives of women and girls by raising awareness of sports-related injuries and the unique factors affecting women’s susceptibility to and recovery from injury.

The Initiative, a special project fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, serves to strengthen efforts to protect female athletes from preventable injuries, particularly concussions, and to ensure that they can actively participate in organized sports without sacrificing their health and safety. For more information, visit www.womenssportssafety.com.

About Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems. As the largest community foundation in the world, we engage donors and corporations from Silicon Valley, across the country and around the globe to make our region and world better for all. Our passion for helping people and organizations achieve their philanthropic dreams has created a global philanthropic enterprise committed to the belief that possibilities start here.