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Psychological interventions used to reduce sports injuries: a systematic review of real-world effectiveness
  1. Adam Gledhill1,
  2. Dale Forsdyke2,
  3. Eliot Murray3
  1. 1 Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  2. 2 School of Sport, York St John University, York, UK
  3. 3 Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, School of Clinical and Applied Sciences, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Adam Gledhill, Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds LS6 3QS, UK; adam.gledhill{at}


Objective To systematically review studies examining the role of psychological interventions in injury prevention. The primary research question was: What is the real-world effectiveness of psychological intervention in preventing sports injuries?

Design Mixed methods systematic review with best evidence synthesis.

Data sources CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, Science Direct and PubMed.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Randomised controlled trials (RCT), non-RCTs that included a comparison group, before and after study designs and qualitative methods. Studies were required to outline specific unimodal or multimodal psychological interventions used in relation to injury prevention in the real-world setting.

Outcome measure Studies were independently appraised with the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool.

Results Thirteen papers (incorporating 14 studies) met the eligibility criteria, of which 93% (13/14) reported a decrease in injury rates (effect size range=0.2–1.21). There was an overall moderate risk of bias in reporting (52%). There is a dominance of stress management-based interventions in literature due to the prominence of the model of stress and athletic injury within the area.

Summary/conclusions Psychological interventions demonstrate small (0.2) to large (1.21) effects on sports injury rates. The research area demonstrates a cumulative moderate risk in reporting bias (52%).

PROSPERO registration number CRD42016035879.

  • injury prevention
  • review
  • sport psychology
  • stress
  • psychology

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  • Contributors AG and EM were responsible for the conception and design of this systematic review. EM completed the PROSPERO registration, obtained ethical approval and applied the search strategy. AG, EM and DF extracted the data. The peer review team (AG, DF and EM) independently applied the eligibility criteria and quality appraisal tool, and agreed on the final risk of bias. AG, DF and EM completed the final manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Leeds Beckett University Ethics Committee (application reference: 18124)

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.