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Sports injury incidence
  1. Lisa Hodgson Phillips
  1. Centre for Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopaedic and Accident Surgery, Queen's Medical Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham NG7 2UH, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to: L Hodgson Phillips

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The aim of this paper is to give a “medical” viewpoint on sports injury data collection and analysis, and to emphasise the importance of epidemiological sports data collection with regard to incidence rates and exposure risk hours and highlight the need for uniform definitions within and across sport. It is designed not as a statistical or epidemiological paper but as a resource to be used by those involved in sports injury research so that they may confidently analyse, evaluate, and compare existing research and to enable them to collect accurate sports injury data in their own field.


Scientifically, it is not sound to rely on case reports to indicate injury patterns in sport, and yet it is common practice. It is always problematical to compare injury statistics across sports because of the added factors of the number of people involved, the time played, and variable injury definition. Increasingly, sports injury data are reported as incidence rates—for example, injuries per 1000 hours played—that is, using numerator and denominator data—as this methodology takes account of the exposure time at risk.

Sports injuries occur when athletes are exposed to their given sport and they occur under specific conditions, at a known time and place.

The last point should relate to time missed in training days as well as competitive participation and may also consider time lost to work in the case of a semiprofessional athlete. The knowledge gained from asking these questions may help us to predict and thus prevent injury.

In sports medicine, we are thus all epidemiologists “concerned with quantifying injury occurrence with respect to who is affected by injury, where and when injuries occur and what is their outcome—for the purposes of explaining why and how injuries occur and identifying strategies to control and prevent them”.1

To interpret the …

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