Paediatric Traumatic Brain Injury in New Zealand: Caregiver Knowledge and Media Representations
Willix-Payne, D. J. (2015). Paediatric Traumatic Brain Injury in New Zealand: Caregiver Knowledge and Media Representations (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10006
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10006
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the paediatric population. Even mild TBI may lead to on-going cognitive, behavioural and physical problems. Children are reliant on their caregivers to seek treatment for them, which depends on caregiver knowledge of TBI. The aims of this study were: (a) to investigate the knowledge of New Zealand caregivers about TBI; and (b) to examine the potential contribution of New Zealand newspapers to public knowledge about TBI. Caregivers (205) of primary and intermediate schoolchildren completed a pen-and-paper or online survey containing questions examining their knowledge of TBI terminology, symptoms and facts about concussion/mTBI. A high proportion (61%) of caregivers did not think that a concussion was the same thing as a brain injury. Loss of consciousness (LOC) was the most endorsed symptom of TBI, and 31% of caregivers did not know that a TBI could occur without LOC. Behavioural symptoms of TBI were less well known than physical and cognitive symptoms, and caregivers varied widely in their knowledge of facts about mild TBI/concussion. These results suggest more education is needed. Demographic and predictor variables explained little of the variance in knowledge, suggesting that a general approach to education would be more useful than an approach targeted to specific demographic groups. To evaluate the contribution of the popular press to TBI knowledge, the presence of information about TBI terminology, symptoms and concussion facts in newspaper articles published between January and June in 2009 and 2014 was investigated via quantitative content analysis. The context in which the information was presented was investigated both quantitatively and by qualitative thematic analysis. The use of different terminology for TBI was strongly associated with the section of the newspaper. Articles rarely used ‘brain injury’: ‘head injury’ and ‘concussion’ were the main terms used. ‘Head injury’ was strongly associated with the News section of the newspaper, whereas ‘concussion’ was mainly used in the Sports section. There was very little information on symptoms and concussion facts in newspaper articles. Loss of consciousness was the most commonly mentioned symptom, which is of concern given that a TBI can occur without loss of consciousness. Most of the limited information that was present about concussion was correct. There was more information about concussion in 2014 than in 2009, but there was no increase in symptom information with time. Qualitative analysis revealed that information was present in a context which was supportive of good management of TBI in the sporting context, and which was unsupportive of returning to play too soon after injury. As newspapers represent an important ‘pre-exposure’ source of information about TBI, researchers should work with journalists to improve the level and accuracy of coverage of TBI information in newspapers. In conclusion, further education of caregivers of primary and intermediate school children is needed to ensure they can recognise and appropriately manage TBI in their children. Improving the information present in New Zealand newspapers, which is lacking, would be one way to improve this knowledge.
University of Waikato
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