Sensation-seeking, or the need for novel and exciting experiences, is thought to play a role in sport-related concussion (SRC), yet much remains unknown regarding these relationships and, more importantly, how sensation-seeking influences SRC risk. The current study assessed sensation-seeking, sport contact level, and SRC history and incidence in a large sample of NCAA collegiate athletes. Data included a full study sample of 22,374 baseline evaluations and a sub-sample of 2037 incident SRC. Independent samples t-test, analysis of covariance, and hierarchical logistic regression were constructed to address study hypotheses. Results showed that (1) among participants without SRC, sensation-seeking scores were higher in athletes playing contact sports compared to those playing limited- or non-contact sports (p < 0.001, R2 = 0.007, η2p = 0.003); (2) in the full study sample, a one-point increase in sensation-seeking scores resulted in a 21% greater risk of prior SRC (OR = 1.212; 95% CI: 1.154–1.272), and in the incident SRC sub-sample, a 28% greater risk of prior SRC (OR = 1.278; 95% CI: 1.104–1.480); (3) a one-point increase in sensation-seeking scores resulted in a 12% greater risk of incident SRC among the full study sample; and (4) sensation-seeking did not vary as a function of incident SRC (p = 0.281, η2p = 0.000). Our findings demonstrate the potential usefulness of considering sensation-seeking in SRC management.

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Published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences, v. 21, issue 23, 9097.

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was funded, in part, by support from the Grand Alliance CARE Consortium, funded by the NCAA and the Department of Defense. The US Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick, MD 21702-5014, USA, is the awarding and administering acquisition office. This work was supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs through the Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Program under award no. W81XWH-14-2-0151.