Achieving Consensus Through a Modified Delphi Technique to Create the Post-concussion Collegiate Return-to-Learn Protocol

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Sports Medicine


Background: Sport-related concussions (SRCs) affect millions of adolescents and young adults annually in the USA; however, current SRC consensus statements provide limited guidance on academic support for students within higher education. Objective: To generate consensus on appropriate academic recommendations for clinicians, students, and academic stakeholders to support university students during their recovery. Methods: Panelists participated in three stages of a modified Delphi procedure: the first stage included a series of open-ended questions after reviewing a literature review on post-SRC return-to-learn (RTL) in higher education; the second stage asked panelists to anonymously rate the recommendations developed through the first Delphi stage using a 9-point scale; and the final stage offered panelists the opportunity to change their responses and/or provide feedback based on the group’s overall ratings. Results: Twenty-two panelists including clinicians, concussion researchers, and academic stakeholders (54.5% female) from 15 institutions and/or healthcare systems participated in a modified Delphi procedure. A total of 42 statements were developed after round one. Following the next two rounds, 27 statements achieved consensus amongst the panel resulting in the four-stage Post-Concussion Collegiate RTL Protocol. Conclusion: There are several unique challenges when assisting university students back to the classroom after SRC. Explicit guidelines on when to seek additional medical care (e.g., if they are experiencing worsening or persistent symptoms) and how to approach their instructor(s) regarding academic support may help the student self-advocate. Findings from the present study address barriers and provide a framework for universities to facilitate a multidisciplinary approach amongst medical and academic stakeholders.

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