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Attitudes towards protective headgear in UK rugby union players
  1. Andrew Barnes,
  2. James L Rumbold,
  3. Peter Olusoga
  1. Academy of Sport and Physical Activity, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Barnes; a.barnes{at}


Background/aim Concussions in rugby union pose a major threat to player welfare. Research has found protective headgear offers no significant protection against concussions but suggests a large proportion of players perceive headgear to be effective in preventing concussions. This study aimed to explore UK rugby union players’ attitudes towards wearing protective headgear.

Methods 545 rugby union players (85% male) from a range of playing standards completed an online survey. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected on player attitudes towards protective headgear use. Descriptive statistics, multiple regressions and content analysis were used to analyse the responses.

Results 37% of players believed that headgear was effective in preventing head injuries. Playing group was found to be inversely associated with headgear effectiveness (∆R2 =0.01, B=−0.13, p=0.02), with youth players holding stronger beliefs that headgear is effective at preventing head injuries compared with all senior groups. The main reasons cited for wearing headgear related to protection from minor injuries (55%) with only 10% of responses related to concussion prevention.

Conclusions There appears to be a good awareness in UK players that protective headgear is not effective at preventing concussions. Continued education is vital to ensure players are fully aware of the limitations of headgear, and players who wear it do not engage in overly reckless behaviours as a result.

  • concussion
  • sporting injuries
  • rugby
  • sport and exercise psychology

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  • Contributors All authors conceived the study and developed the data collection and protocol. PO developed the online survey, and JLR performed the statistical analysis on the data. All authors wrote the first draft of the manuscript and critically reviewed the work before approving the final version of the manuscript. All authors will act as study guarantors for this paper.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Sheffield Hallam University Ethics Board, Sheffield, UK.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.