Parents and coaches as transformational leaders: Motivating high school athletes’ intentions to report concussion symptoms across socioeconomic statuses

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Social Science and Medicine


Purpose: Studies demonstrate that parents and coaches play a role in an athlete's concussion reporting decision primarily through their influence on the decision environment. Little work, however, has explored how a given parenting/coaching style operates to promote intentions and much less work has examined whether the impact of parenting/coaching on concussion reporting differs by socioeconomic status. Transformational parenting/coaching (i.e., a focus on building autonomy and self-efficacy in athletes) represents one promising approach given its effects on other outcomes (e.g., health, burnout, aggression). We hypothesize that athlete perceptions of transformational parenting/coaching will be associated with their reporting intentions directly and through the athlete's motivation for playing their sport regardless of household income. Methods: A national survey of 1023 high-school athletes measured athlete perceptions of transformational parenting/coaching, sport motivation, and reporting intentions. Structural Equation Modeling was used to examine hypotheses. Results: Transformational parenting was directly associated with reporting intentions (β: Reporting Intentions = .265; Scenario 1 = 0.206; Scenario 2 = 0.260) and indirectly through increased autonomous/decreased controlled motivation. Transformational coaching was not directly associated with Reporting Intentions (β = 0.008, p = .816) or Scenario 2 (β = 0.046, p = .198) but was for Scenario 1 (β = 0.077, p = .003). Transformational coaching was also associated with reporting intention indirectly through increased autonomous, but not controlled motivation. Athletes with household income of $50,000+ were more likely to report transformational parenting/coaching; however, the effects of transformational parenting/coaching did not differ for athletes from higher versus lower-income households. Conclusions: Transformational parenting/coaching may encourage greater concussion reporting intentions primarily through increased autonomous (i.e., self-directed) sport motivation regardless of socioeconomic status. Cultivating transformational leadership in parents/coaches can have a positive impact on the athlete's intention to report concussion-like symptoms.



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