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Sports medicine clinical trial research publications in academic medical journals between 1996 and 2005: an audit of the PubMed MEDLINE database
  1. A W Nichols
  1. Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
  1. Dr A W Nichols, Associate Professor and Chief, Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, John A. Burns School of Medicine, 651 Ilalo Street, Medical Education Building, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813-5534; nicholsa{at}


Objective: To identify sports medicine-related clinical trial research articles in the PubMed MEDLINE database published between 1996 and 2005 and conduct a review and analysis of topics of research, experimental designs, journals of publication and the internationality of authorships.

Hypothesis: Sports medicine research is international in scope with improving study methodology and an evolution of topics.

Design: Structured review of articles identified in a search of a large electronic medical database.

Setting: PubMed MEDLINE database.

Participants: Sports medicine-related clinical research trials published between 1996 and 2005.

Interventions: Review and analysis of articles that meet inclusion criteria.

Main outcome measurements: Articles were examined for study topics, research methods, experimental subject characteristics, journal of publication, lead authors and journal countries of origin and language of publication.

Results: The search retrieved 414 articles, of which 379 (345 English language and 34 non-English language) met the inclusion criteria. The number of publications increased steadily during the study period. Randomised clinical trials were the most common study type and the “diagnosis, management and treatment of sports-related injuries and conditions” was the most popular study topic. The knee, ankle/foot and shoulder were the most frequent anatomical sites of study. Soccer players and runners were the favourite study subjects. The American Journal of Sports Medicine had the highest number of publications and shared the greatest international diversity of authorships with the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The USA, Australia, Germany and the UK produced a good number of the lead authorships. In all, 91% of articles and 88% of journals were published in English.

Conclusions: Sports medicine-related research is internationally diverse, clinical trial publications are increasing and the sophistication of research design may be improving.

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  • Competing interests: None.

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