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Research alone is not sufficient to prevent sports injury
  1. Dale Hanson1,
  2. John P Allegrante2,3,
  3. David A Sleet4,
  4. Caroline F Finch5
  1. 1School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Mackay Base Hospital Campus, Queensland, Mackay, Australia
  2. 2Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
  3. 3Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
  4. 4Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta,  Georgia, USA
  5. 5Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention, Monash Injury Research Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Dale Hanson, Director of Clinical Training, Mackay Health Service District, Queensland Health, Queensland, Australia;dale.hanson{at}

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This journal aims to promote, publish and promulgate high-quality, innovative research. As laudable as this is, it is not enough. Unless this research culminates in practical and cost-effective interventions capable of attracting the political and social support required to allow effective implementation, it will not prevent harm or save lives.1

The Public Health Model has been proposed as a framework to promote the progression of sports medicine research towards real-world application.2 ,3 In this four-stage model, research progresses in a stepwise manner from problem identification to adoption of effective interventions:4

  • Stage 1: establishing the magnitude of the problem;

  • Stage 2: identifying risk factors;

  • Stage 3: developing effective interventions;

  • Stage 4: ensuring widespread adoption and use.

Unfortunately, most sports injury research does not result in adequate dissemination or widespread use of effective interventions.5 ,6 The problem is not unique to sports medicine. In a review of 1210 articles published in 12 leading public health and health promotion journals, Oldenburg et al7 found that 63% of publications were descriptive (Stages 1 and 2), 11% were concerned with method development and 16% were intervention-based (Stage 3), and only 5% were concerned with institutionalisation or policy implementation research, with less than 1% containing diffusion research (Stage 4).

While researchers have generated considerable knowledge from surveillance, risk factor identification and efficacy and effectiveness studies, this knowledge needs to be adopted by those who can use it to improve sports medicine practice (eg, clinicians, coaches and sporting bodies).1 ,8

Several gaps between injury prevention research and safety promotion practice hamper our efforts:9

  • the efficacy-to-effectiveness gap,

  • the research-to-practice gap,

  • the injury-prevention-to-safety-promotion gap.

These gaps stem from the contrasting approaches that researchers, policy makers, practitioners and the community take to the scientific, practical and social challenges posed by …

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