In 2005, sport and exercise medicine (SEM) became a specialty in the United Kingdom to provide expert treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and promote physical activity (Cullen et al. BJSM 2005;39:250). There is no published research on the utilisation of publicly-funded SEM clinics. We investigated National Health Service (NHS) SEM patient sociodemographics, exercise participation, injuries and management in order to assess clinic accessibility and inform the development of services and SEM specialist training to better meet patient demands. This was a longitudinal observational study using a two-part questionnaire, Part A completed by patients and Part B by clinicians. We attempted to include all patients during December 2011 to April 2012 at all NHS SEM clinics in the London Deanery and two in the Oxford and West Midlands Deaneries. Exercise medicine referrals were not seen in these clinics so could not be included. Two clinics in London, four clinicians, 27 patients participated. Overall 70% (19/27) male, 67% (18/27) white, mean age 30, all employed, in full-time education or retired. Injuries were chronic instability, joint sprain, muscle, cartilage and tendon injury, from running 26% (7/27), football, non-sports, other sports each 15% (4/27). Eleven percent (3/27) did no sport. Six of seven that answered required imaging. Onward referrals were to orthopaedics, physiotherapy, general practise and podiatry. Descriptive analysis showed clinic demographics reflected area residents. Most injuries were at the knee with high demand for MRI and referral to orthopaedic services. Future studies should increase sample sizes to better understand sociodemographics, whether patients see multiple physicians before appropriate referral to NHS SEM clinic (O'Halloran et al. BJSM 2009;43(14):1143–8), if injury types are generalisable across clinics, and whether exercise medicine is being delivered alongside care of musculoskeletal injuries.
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