Personality and symptom report in sports-related concussion testing

Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology -


Bailey, C. M., P. A. Arnett, F. H. Barwick, T. D. Morgan and A. L. Pincus.



Objective: The current study examined the relationship between personality traits and symptom report in college athletes. Method: 329 collegiate athletes (249 male, 80 female) were administered the ImPACT and NEO-Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) as a part of baseline evaluations in the Penn State Concussion Program. Significantly correlated NEO-FFI factors were entered into a linear regression predicting the ImPACT Total Symptom Score (TSS). Given the nature of symptom report, TSS was also evaluated in a nonparametric manner. Symptom Groups were established by identifying low (0–30%), average (30–75%), and high (>75%) symptom reporters according to the cumulative frequency of athletes reporting the given amount of symptoms. High/low NEO-FFI groups were established according to those who fell 1S.D. from the mean. Participant frequency in the symptom and high/low groups were examined with chi-square analyses. Results: Baseline correlations revealed that Neuroticism (r = 0.36, p < 0.001) and Agreeableness (r = −0.21, p < 0.001) were significantly related to TSS. When entered into the linear regression, both Neuroticism (p < 0.001) and Agreeableness (p < 0.05) were significant predictors of TSS, accounting for a moderate amount of TSS variance (r2 = 0.14) when combined. When examined categorically, a greater frequency of athletes with high Neuroticism were in the High TSS group (χ2(4) = 34.02, p < 0.001) and a greater frequency of athletes with low Agreeableness were in the High TSS group (χ2(4) = 12.13, p < 0.05). Conclusions: In both parametric and non-parametric analyses, Neuroticism and Disagreeableness were revealed as unique and significant contributors to reported baseline symptoms in athletes. Results suggest that personality traits should be considered when examining symptom report in concussion evaluations.

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