OBJECTIVE--To describe the epidemiology of sports injuries occurring in a community during 8 years and to evaluate the outcome of an intervention implemented against injuries occurring in downhill skiing. METHODS--Hospital treated sports injuries occurring in Harstad, Norway (population 22 600) were recorded prospectively during an 8 year period. A prevention programme targeting downhill skiing injuries was evaluated. RESULTS--2234 sports injuries accounted for 17.2% of recorded unintentional injuries. Two out of three injuries occurred in team sports. Soccer accounted for 44.8% of all sports injuries. Downhill skiing injuries had higher mean score on the abbreviated injury scale than all other sports analysed combined (P < 0.01). Postintervention injury rates for downhill skiing were reduced by 15% when adjusting for exposure (P = 0.24). Further observations are needed for assessing the effectiveness of the downhill skiing safety programme. CONCLUSIONS--Strategies for future sports injury prevention include community involvement, particularly sports organisations. Local data analysis seems to justify some priorities, for example, promotion of helmet use in downhill skiing for young adolescents and prevention of lower limb fractures in male soccer players 15+ years old. Prospective hospital recording of injuries provides a tool for the design and outcome evaluation of sports injury intervention research.
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