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What is a sports medicine specialist?
  1. P Schur
  1. Wiggo Cottage, 135 Main Road, Wybunbury, Nantwich Cheshire CW5 7LR, UK
    1. B Thompson1,
    2. O McNally2,
    3. S O Neill2,
    4. D Macauley2
    1. 1Sports Medicine Clinic, Craigavon Area Hospital, Portadown, Northern Ireland BT63 5QQ
    2. 2Institute of Postgraduate Medical and Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Ulster BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland

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      Editor,—I feel that I must respond to the recent article on sports medicine specialists.1 After an editorial and several papers on the recognition of sports medicine as a specialty, this paper listed the 18 attributes considered necessary to be a sports medicine specialist. Of these only four (items 5, 10, 12, and 16) seem to me to be specialist. The others items are either attributes of all doctors (items 3, 4, 8, 9, and 11, possibly 12, 13, 14, 17, and 18) or firstaiders (items 1, 2, 6, and 7). Surely sports doctors and specialists should be more than that? They should be able to discuss the pros and cons of exercise, should have detailed knowledge of the risks and benefits of different sports, and should be promoting the concepts of wellness and injury prevention. I think it would be useful to know the original background of the selected group of sports specialists who drew up this list although I suspect it will be they will be part of the orthopaedics specialty or that of accident and emergency. If any doctor can do what they suggest is “special”, and that you get free at point of contact in the NHS, I would question the validity of the concept of sports medicine as a specialty.

      As an aside, if stabilisation of the cervical spine is the second most important attribute of a sports medicine specialist, how many sports specialists attending aquatic events know how to effect that in water and recover the casualty?

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      Authors' reply

      We welcome Dr Schur's letter and are glad that this small pilot study has stimulated his response. Indeed, his thoughts on the matter really bring one back to the title of the article—“What is a sports medicine specialist?”

      The choice of Delphi methodology was specifically to allow a wide range of input to reach an initial consensus. We attempted to maximise the breadth of the study by offering both examples of similar studies and inviting as many responses as possible. Those involved in the pilot study had all shown their commitment and expertise in sports medicine by holding the Diploma in Sports Medicine. Their backgrounds were varied: nine are general practitioners, two are sports physicians, one is an orthopaedic surgeon, and one an accident and emergency specialist. Seven of the GPs also run sports medicine clinics. The sporting backgrounds of those contributing to the study were also diverse, covering many major and minor sports.

      Every person involved in sports medicine will have their own viewpoint based on personal experience, qualifications, sporting background, age, and outlook and a full study involving a much larger sample size will hopefully expose this. We look forward to the full study involving many of the cross section of members of BASEM (British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine) in a greater number of rounds to get a more specific consensus.

      By completing studies such as this, it should be possible to convince the sceptics that sports medicine is indeed a speciality which requires recognition rather than something which any doctor or firstaider can provide competently.

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