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Sports and exercise medicine in Europe and the advances in the last decade
  1. Daniel Neunhaeuserer1,2,
  2. Josef Niebauer3,4,
  3. Gino Degano1,2,
  4. Veronica Baioccato1,2,
  5. Mats Borjesson5,6,
  6. Maurizio Casasco7,8,
  7. Norbert Bachl8,9,10,
  8. Nicolas Christodoulou11,12,
  9. Juergen Michael Steinacker13,14,
  10. Theodora Papadopoulou8,10,15,
  11. Fabio Pigozzi10,16,
  12. Andrea Ermolao1,2
  1. 1 Sports and Exercise Medicine Division, University of Padova Department of Medicine, Padova, Veneto, Italy
  2. 2 Clinical Network of Sports and Exercise Medicine of the Veneto Region, Padova, Veneto, Italy
  3. 3 University Institute of Sports Medicine, Prevention and Rehabilitation, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
  4. 4 Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Prevention, Salzburg, Austria
  5. 5 Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine,Center for Health and Performance, Goteborgs Universitet Sahlgrenska Akademin, Goteborg, Sweden
  6. 6 Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Goteborg, Västra Götaland, Sweden
  7. 7 Italian Federation of Sports Medicine, Rome, Italy
  8. 8 European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations, Lausanne, Switzerland
  9. 9 Austrian Institute of Sports Medicine, Vienna, Austria
  10. 10 International Federation of Sports Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland
  11. 11 School of Sciences, European University Cyprus, Nicosia, Nicosia, Cyprus
  12. 12 UEMS MJC on Sports Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland
  13. 13 Division of Sports and Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Ulm University Hospital, Ulm, Germany
  14. 14 European Initiative for Exercise in Medicine, Ulm, Germany
  15. 15 Stanford Hall, Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Loughborough, UK
  16. 16 Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome 'Foro Italico', Rome, Lazio, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Professor Josef Niebauer, University Institute of Sports Medicine, Prevention and Rehabilitation, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Salzburg 5020, Austria; j.niebauer{at}

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Sports and exercise medicine (SEM) is a professional qualification for physicians responsible for the health and care of athletes, but also for the functional evaluation and exercise prescription in patients with chronic diseases. SEM clinicians are involved in health promotion, screening and illness prevention for public health purposes.1 These medical specialists provide preparticipation evaluations in sports as well as comprehensive support and counselling for all those who engage in physical activity and exercise training. Although the exact role may vary in different settings and countries, key competencies of SEM-specialists have been identified including2 3:

  • Exercise physiology.

  • Physical activity for public health.

  • Physical activity in extreme environments.

  • Sports and exercise for special/disabled populations.

  • Clinical/functional evaluation in athletes and patients.

  • Exercise prescription.

  • Musculoskeletal medicine, injuries and rehabilitation.

  • Nutrition.

  • Drugs and antidoping in sports.

  • Sports team care/management.

  • SEM-specific skills.

  • Medical emergencies.

  • Psychosocial and complementary competencies (ie, research, communication, management).

Scientific evidence clearly shows that physical exercise is one of the most important prevention strategies and cost-effective/cost-saving medical treatment options for multiple chronic diseases.4 5 Surprisingly, abilities regarding the prescription of this exercise ‘poly-pill’ is not adequately taught in medical schools or during postgraduate specialisations. Athletes from different sports and performance levels will also seek SEM specialists for medical care. We, here, report the current state of the SEM specialisation in Europe and reflect on both our advances over the last decade and contemporary challenges.

Current situation in Europe

Specialisation in SEM varies largely and a formal European Union (EU)-wide recognition as well as a defined role within healthcare settings have not yet been reached in many European countries. This is illustrated by the fact that a common curriculum has not yet been implemented, even though it has been recently proposed by the …

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  • Contributors All listed authors have made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition/analysis of data or interpretation of the current situation of Sports and Exercise Medicine in Europe. Additionally, they have been involved in the drafting or critical review and have approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Map disclaimer The depiction of boundaries on the map(s) in this article does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of BMJ (or any member of its group) concerning the legal status of any country, territory, jurisdiction or area or of its authorities. The map(s) are provided without any warranty of any kind, either express or implied.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.