There is a lack of studies on the role of NFs in (i) the field of health promotion among the general population and (ii) protection of their elite athletes. This begs two questions: Is the promotion of health in the general population a priority for the NFs? Are NFs from developing countries vs developed countries attending international events with the appropriate medical structures?
Purpose To determine the profile of the medical personnel, the priorities and the activities researches of the National Swimming Federations of Developing and Developed countries with respect to the athletes’ health protection and the promotion of health in the general population. In addition we question the extent to which the FINA health related rules, projects and programs trickle down to the NFs.
Method The survey was designed based on the International Sport Medicine Federation (FIMS)1 and Mountjoy & Junge (2013).2 A statistical validity and reliability was obtained (Cronbach α coefficient of 0.8642 for n = 15). The survey was created using the free software platform Lime Survey (GNU/GPLv2) and was available at the Centre for Computing and Network Services, (University of Granada). The NFs were asked: To confirm whether or not they had certain medical personnel within their NF and national team; To report their programmes’ guidelines and research in relation to indicated health promotion’s topics; To rate the importance of 11 indicated topics in relation to health promotion.
Results The response rate was 64.9% (135 NFs: 56.3% of developing countries (80 of 142 NFs) and 83.3% of developed countries (55 of 66 NFs). Developing and Developed NFs’ most common medical personnel are physiotherapist and doctors. Their medical structures are broadly similar. Where differences are evident is in relation to the presence of physiotherapists (Developing NFs: 31.2%, Developed NFs: 58.1%; p < 0.005) and psychologists (11.2% vs 21.8%; p < 0.1). The programs based around drowning prevention are the most prevalent of the programs run by both (58.7% vs 74.5%; p < 0.1). Significant differences exist in relation to return-to-play after injury programs (p < 0.05) which are more common among Developing NFs. The top priority for both is the top performance of their elite athlete. Increasing the number of elite athletes is of more importance for Developing NFs (4.1 vs 3.95; p < 0.05).
Conclusion Developing and Developed NFs differ significantly in terms of physiotherapists and psychologists. They reported to have similar or higher level of programs/activities and research, with the exception of programs related to drowning, and return to play after injury. The issues of public health and protection of the athlete’s health are areas for continued development in both.
Acknowledgements The authors highly appreciate the co-operation of the National Swimming Federations and their staff who responded to this survey providing data for this study.
FIMS Interfederal Commission. Survey on the Importance of Medicine in International Sports Federations. Lausanne, Switzerland: FIMS; 2015.
Mountjoy M & Junge A.The role of International Sport Federations in the protection of the athlete’s health and promotion of sport for health of the general population. Br J Sports Med 2013;47(16):1023–7.
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