Labeling Avoidance in Healthcare Decision-Making: How Stakeholders Make Sense of Concussion Events through Sport Narratives

Alaina Zanin, Jessica K. Kamrath, Scott W. Ruston, Karlee A. Posteher, Steven Corman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


This study documents how cultural sport narratives influence athletic team member sensemaking during concussion events. Analysis of macro-level sport culture narratives and interviews (N = 93) with collegiate athletes and athletic trainers from eleven large universities within the United States revealed that participants utilized five cultural sport narratives when making sense of a concussion event (i.e., Play-through-pain, Commodification, Big leagues, Masculine-Warrior, and Need-for-safety). These narratives functioned in two specific ways as athletic team members made sense of concussion events (i.e., as extracted cues and identity defenses). The study presents the concept of labeling avoidance (e.g., avoiding a formal concussion diagnosis) to describe how athletes retrospectively rationalized their non-disclosure of a severe head impact. Theoretical and practical implications of the study findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Communication
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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