A cross-sectional study reporting concussion exposure, assessment and management in Western Australian general practice

Elizabeth Thomas, Hui Jun Chih, Belinda Gabbe, Melinda Fitzgerald, Gill Cowen

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Background: General Practitioners (GPs) may be called upon to assess patients who have sustained a concussion despite limited information being available at this assessment. Information relating to how concussion is actually being assessed and managed in General Practice is scarce. This study aimed to identify characteristics of current Western Australian (WA) GP exposure to patients with concussion, factors associated with GPs’ knowledge of concussion, confidence of GPs in diagnosing and managing patients with concussion, typical referral practices and familiarity of GPs with guidelines. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, GPs in WA were recruited via the RACGP WA newsletter and shareGP and the consented GPs completed an electronic survey. Associations were performed using Chi-squared tests or Fisher’s Exact test. Results: Sixty-six GPs in WA responded to the survey (response rate = 1.7%). Demographics, usual practice, knowledge, confidence, identification of prolonged recovery as well as guideline and resource awareness of GPs who practised in regional and metropolitan areas were comparable (p > 0.05). Characteristics of GPs were similar between those who identified all symptoms of concussion and distractors correctly and those who did not (p > 0.05). However, 84% of the respondents who had never heard of concussion guidelines were less likely to answer all symptoms and distractors correctly (p = 0.039). Whilst 78% of the GPs who were confident in their diagnoses had heard of guidelines (p = 0.029), confidence in managing concussion was not significantly associated with GPs exposure to guidelines. It should be noted that none of the respondents correctly identified signs of concussion and excluded the distractors. Conclusions: Knowledge surrounding concussion guidelines, diagnosis and management varied across GPs in WA. Promotion of available concussion guidelines may assist GPs who lack confidence in making a diagnosis. The lack of association between GPs exposure to guidelines and confidence managing concussion highlights that concussion management may be an area where GPs could benefit from additional education and support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2021

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