Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Andrew M. Johnson

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Jacob J. Shelley



In March 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Education was the first ministry in Canada to institute a formal concussion policy. The ministry stipulates that student long-term health and safety are essential preconditions for learning, and that concussions can negatively impact cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development. Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) No. 158 requires all school boards and school authorities to establish a policy on concussions. Each school board in Ontario developed a concussion policy within their local context to address concussion awareness, prevention, identification, management, and training. School boards, administrators, teachers, staff, students, parents/guardians, volunteers, and community-based organizations were encouraged to participate in policy development as stated in PPM No. 158.

The purpose of this study was to understand how school boards in Ontario interpreted PPM No. 158 in the development and implementation of board concussion policies and administrative procedures. An interpretive policy analysis founded on Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics was conducted on publicly available concussion policy documents and related administrative procedures from 64 Ontario school boards and school authorities. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four school board administrators to further contextualize this analysis.

School boards in Ontario relied on partnerships across the domains of education, health, and safety in order to fulfill the requirements of PPM No. 158. Within each domain, collaboration between students, parents/guardians, teachers, administrators, coaches, and health care providers was essential for the development and implementation of school board concussion policies. Multiple stakeholder groups frequently share responsibility for student education, health, and safety. Effective collaborative partnerships require strong communication and a shared understanding of concussion prevention, identification, and management strategies. As a result of PPM No. 158, teachers and school administrators have increasingly taken on a leadership role in this regard.