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When is a study result important for athletes, clinicians and team coaches/staff?
  1. Rasmus Oestergaard Nielsen1,
  2. Michael Lejbach Bertelsen1,
  3. Evert Verhagen2,3,
  4. Mohammad Ali Mansournia4,
  5. Adam Hulme2,
  6. Merete Møller1,
  7. Martí Casals5,6
  1. 1Section for Sports Science, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  2. 2Australian Collaboration for Research into Injury in Sports and its Prevention (ACRISP), Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Australia
  3. 3Amsterdam Collaboration on Health & Safety in Sports, Department of Public and Occupational Health, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam Movement Science, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  5. 5Sport Performance Analysis Research Group, University of Vic, Barcelona, Spain
  6. 6Research Centre Network for Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Professor Mohammad Ali Mansournia, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran; mansournia_ma{at}yahoo.com

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Introduction

How do you know if the results of a particular study are important to your team, your patients or your community? A result that is statistically significant is not necessarily a meaningful target for sports injury prevention or a treatment strategy.1–3 And if statistical significance is not enough to determine ‘importance’ or meaningfulness, then what is?

Box 1 Definition: Minimal important difference (MID)

Minimal important difference (MID) is the smallest change in sports injury risk or treatment outcome that an athlete, a player, a coach, a clinician and/or team staff would identify as important. The size of MID is context-specific and a study result may be identified as important for some and non-important for others.

We aim to shed light on this important topic in the first of a series of editorials that will help clinicians and team staff interpret studies more critically and confidently. First, a measure of association (eg, a relative risk or an absolute risk difference) and its precision (eg, 95% CIs) allows for appropriate evaluation of study results.1 Next, a size of an association should be equal to or exceed a minimal important difference (MID) (box 1) that would affect practice. In this light, the question remains: is it possible to identify a MID in sports injury articles regardless of the measure of association used?

In this editorial, we argue that the choice of measure has consequences for the ability to …

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