Dazed and confused: sports medicine, conflicts of interest, and concussion management

Partridge, Brad (2013) Dazed and confused: sports medicine, conflicts of interest, and concussion management. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 11 1: 65-74. doi:10.1007/s11673-013-9491-2

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Author Partridge, Brad
Title Dazed and confused: sports medicine, conflicts of interest, and concussion management
Journal name Journal of Bioethical Inquiry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1176-7529
Publication date 2013-01-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s11673-013-9491-2
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 11
Issue 1
Start page 65
End page 74
Total pages 10
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Abstract Professional sports with high rates of concussion have become increasingly concerned about the long-term effects of multiple head injuries. In this context, return-to-play decisions about concussion generate considerable ethical tensions for sports physicians. Team doctors clearly have an obligation to the welfare of their patient (the injured athlete) but they also have an obligation to their employer (the team), whose primary interest is typically success through winning. At times, a team's interest in winning may not accord with the welfare of an injured player, particularly when it comes to decisions about returning to play after injury. Australia's two most popular professional football codes-rugby league and Australian Rules football-have adopted guidelines that prohibit concussed players from continuing to play on the same day. I suggest that conflicts of interest between doctors, patients, and teams may present a substantial obstacle to the proper adherence of concussion guidelines. Concussion management guidelines implemented by a sport's governing body do not necessarily remove or resolve conflicts of interest in the doctor-patient-team triad. The instigation of a concussion exclusion rule appears to add a fourth party to this triad (the National Rugby League or the Australian Football League). In some instances, when conflicts of interest among stakeholders are ignored or insufficiently managed, they may facilitate attempts at circumventing concussion management guidelines to the detriment of player welfare.
Keyword Australian Rules football
Conflict of interest
Rugby league
Sports medicine
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online: 19 November 2013.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
Official 2014 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 14 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 13 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 13 Mar 2014, 01:38:41 EST by Roheen Gill on behalf of UQ Centre for Clinical Research