Background The IOC Sports Medical and Scientific Commission has supported the development and dissemination of sports medicine consensus statements for athlete health. Evidence on the relevance and dissemination of these statements is important for the development of future statements.
Objective The objective of this project was to investigate the relevance and dissemination of the IOC consensus statements among sports medicine professionals directly involved in Olympic athlete health in a developing setting (South Africa).
Design Qualitative case study.
Methods Semi-structured interviews, document analysis and field-notes were utilised. Seven sports medicine professionals interviewed.
Results Awareness around consensus statement topics and perceived access to the statements was limited in South Africa, especially for clinicians who are not currently active within an academic or research setting. In terms of relevance, participants described the importance of practical relevance of the statements, emphasizing the need for inclusion of the athlete’s voice and diversity in skills, experience and context of the consensus statement authors. Participants also described the need to align format and content of the information according to the target audience. The usability and utilisation of the statements were determined by the perception of relevance at the time, within the specific context, as well as the ability to provide a practical message. Healthcare inequities, poorly resourced national federations, as well as general resource and time restrictions when managing athletes (reactive versus pro-active management) were also considered as barriers to utilisation.
Conclusions The statements were perceived by South African sports medicine professionals as being relevant and beneficial for the management of athlete health. However, issues around awareness, access, usability, and practical application in a developing country were also raised.
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