NeuroRehabilitation. 2023 Oct 26. doi: 10.3233/NRE-230177. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: College faculty are receiving attention as influential members of the Return to Learn (RTL) process for students with concussion. Investigators continue to learn more about how faculty can assist students throughout recovery, yet we must also strive to determine whether such evidence is isolated or is in fact exhibited by faculty elsewhere.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine if successive faculty cohorts demonstrate similar perspectives and RTL decision-making profiles as those from initial investigations.
METHODS: Two universities in New York State were recruited to participate in a two-stage cross-sectional study. College faculty with teaching responsibilities were given the opportunity to complete an online Qualtrics survey followed by a private interview discussing their thoughts, perspective, and/or experiences with managing students with concussion.
RESULTS: Accommodations for students were allowed more often when some form of documentation was present (disability services note = 100% ; multiple types of proof = 91% ; doctor/medical notes = 90% ; and no note = 75%). Three factors consistently scored as influential to faculty RTL decision-making: documentation, teacher-student relationship, and empathy. No significant differences in scoring were seen between male and female faculty participants. Follow-up interviews revealed two themes: legitimacy and empathy. Legitimacy outlines why faculty seek verification of concussion prior to allowing accommodations and includes two subthemes: i) note/documentation, and ii) fairness/protecting integrity. Empathy discusses how and why faculty empathetically assist students with concussion, and includes two subthemes: i) personality, and ii) past experiences/understanding of concussion.
CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate that faculty from different universities display similar RTL decision-making tendencies and perspectives towards students with concussion as those from initial investigations. These data allow RTL stakeholders to better understand and appreciate the potential for faculty to act as facilitators to concussion support. As gatekeepers of the classroom environment, understanding how to produce faculty cooperation will ensure a reproducible and positive outcome for students recovering from concussion.