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The practice of primary care sports medicine in the USA
  1. J J Diehl2,
  2. J J Pirozzolo1,
  3. T M Best2
  1. 1
    Florida Hospital Centra Care, Orlando, Florida, USA
  2. 2
    The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  1. Jason J Diehi, Assistant Professor of Clinical Family Medicine, Division of Sports Medicine, Associate Director – Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship, The Ohio State University Medical Center, OSU Sports Medicine Center, 2050 Kenny Road, Columbus, Ohio 43221, USA; jason.diehl{at}


Objective: To investigate and to characterise the practice patterns, academic rank, and income variables that exist in order to better understand the career of a sports medicine physician in the USA.

Design: A cross-sectional survey of family physicians holding a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Sports Medicine through the American Board of Family Medicine as of January 2006.

Results: The survey was completed by 325 of 862 physicians (a return rate of 38%). Of all respondents, 212 (65%) reported completing a Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship, 276 (85%) were male and 49 (15%) were female, and 300 (92%) reported having a MD, while 25 (8%) had a DO. Clinical duties represented the largest proportion of the physicians’ schedules (7.94 half days/week), and the majority of physicians performed routine athletic event coverage. The average salary for all physicians was $166 000 US. Higher-income groups included: men ($172 000 vs $132 000 for women); regions including Central, South East, and South West; full professors; and non-student health or urgent care clinical work. With control for all other variables, four groups demonstrated significantly higher odds of being high income earners (annual gross salary > $200 000 US). These groups included age over 40, male sex, practice owner, and seeing over 10 patients per half day.

Conclusions: Salary can be related to age, gender, number of patients seen, and practice ownership. No statistical difference among salaries was found between MDs and DOs, osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT) practice, region of the country, or how practices are marketed.

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  • Competing interests: None.