Background While physical activity is associated with an overall reduction in mortality, morbidity and an improved quality of life, it also increases the risk of injury and illness.
Objective To identify gaps in the literature with respect to interventions designed to reduce risk factors for sport injury.
Databases PubMed, Cinahl, Web of Science, Embase, and Sports Discus were searched.
Setting All ages, sex, levels of competition and Olympic sports were included.
Main outcome measurement Pattern of publications over time stratified by study design, intervention type, sport and anatomic site.
Results Only 144 of 2525 articles retrieved by the search strategy met the inclusion criteria. Cross-over study designs increased by 175% since the late 1980's until 2005 but have declined 32% since. Randomised controlled trial (RCT) study designs increased by 650% since the early 1990's. Protective equipment was the focus of 61.8% of the studies and training the remaining 35.4%. Equipment research studied stability devices (83.1%) and attenuating devices (13.5%) while training research studied balance and coordination (54.9%), strength and power (43.1%) and stretching (15.7%). Almost 92.1% of the studies were of the lower extremity and 78.1% were of the joint (non-bone)-ligament type. 57.5% of the reports studied contact sports, 24.2% collision, and 25.75% non-contact sports.
Conclusion We were surprised to find only 144 publications examining interventions designed to reduce risk factors for sport injury. The decrease in cross-over study design and increase in RCTs indicate a shift in research focus. Most notable was the finding that studies using equipment interventions have been decreasing since 2000 (35% decline) while those using training interventions have been increasing (213% increase).