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Removing the training wheels: embracing the social, contextual and psychological in sports medicine
  1. Linda K Truong1,2,
  2. Sheree Bekker3,
  3. Jackie L Whittaker1,2
  1. 1 Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2 Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3 Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  1. Correspondence to Linda K Truong, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Physical Therapy, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, V6T 1Z4, Canada; linda.truong{at}

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According to the US National Federation of State High School Associations, boys have 1.13 million more sport opportunities annually than girls.1 This number snowballs when the intersectionality of race and socioeconomic status is factored in.1 Similarly, income level, gender and race contribute to healthcare inequity.2 While an athletes’ ability to return-to-sport is influenced by their physical and psychological readiness, this is superseded by the systemic social forces that shape an athlete’s reality and determines their access to sport development, funding and medical resources. Despite these realities, substantial neglect and disparity among how we address these ’non-physical’ factors in the sports medicine field continue to exist. Thus, the idea of biopsychosocial sports medicine is both everywhere and nowhere.

The current state of biopsychosocial sports medicine

The biopsychosocial approach to sports medicine is not new, with theoretical frameworks existing since the 1990s.3 In sport medicine, non-physical factors are often lumped together and termed ‘psychosocial’. While this broad construct was valuable for laying the foundation for biopsychosocial sports medicine, it provides a false illusion that we understand and address all non-physical …

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  • Twitter @LKTphysio, @shereebekker, @jwhittak_physio

  • Contributors LKT, SB and JLW contributed equally to the conception of the editorial. LKT drafted the manuscript and designed the accompanying figure. All authors contributed to the revision of the final draft and approved of the final version submitted.

  • 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.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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