Public health policy is a successful population-level strategy for injury prevention but it is yet to be widely applied to the sports sector. Such policy is generally coordinated by government health departments concerned with the allocation of limited resources to health service delivery and preventive programs for addressing large community health issues. Prioritisation of sports injury prevention (SIP) requires high-quality evidence about the size of the problem and its public health burden; identification of at-risk vulnerable groups; confirmed effective prevention solutions; evidence of intervention cost-effectiveness; and quantification of both financial and policy implications of inaction. This paper argues that the major reason for a lack of sports injury policy by government departments for health or sport to date is a lack of relevant information available for policy makers to make their decisions. Key information gaps evident in Australia are used to highlight this problem. SIP policy does not yet rank highly because, relative to other health/injury issues, there is very little hard evidence to support: claims for its priority ranking, the existence of solutions that can be implemented and which will work, and potential cost-savings to government agencies. Moreover, policy action needs to be integrated across government portfolios, including sport, health and others. Until sports medicine research generates high-quality population-level information of direct relevance and importance to policy makers, especially intervention costing and implementation cost-benefit estimates, and fully engage in policy-informing partnerships, SIP will continue to be left off the public health agenda.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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