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In the first1 of our two editorials we discussed if cross-country skiers were more prone to illness than soccer players, illustrated by the carefully executed studies of illness by Svendsen et al 2 and Bjorneboe et al.3 In this second editorial, we discuss why counting and comparing numbers in these kind of studies are associated with methodological challenges.
How do you count illnesses?
In the cross-country skiing study, Svendsen et al counted an infectious event whenever an athlete reported one or more symptoms on two or more consecutive days. In the soccer study, Bjorneboe et al counted an illness episode as any physical or psychological symptom that resulted in the player being unable to participate fully in training or match play. In studies reporting incidence of illness during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, any athlete requiring medical attention was counted.2 ,3 These definitions appear to have simply replaced injuries by illness in the same context.4 Maybe that …