Background Despite the physical, competitive nature of elite athletes and unique features of sport culture, no Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) related measurement instruments exist in sport.
Objective As a part of a wider project focusing on health and safety awareness in elite sport, the purpose of this study was to develop a survey instrument for the evaluation of risk and safety awareness among elite rugby players.
Design Based on an established conceptual framework incorporating OSH theories, the survey was developed by adopting questions from existing validated questionnaires through an iterative process, with the feedback from a multidisciplinary team of experts and pilot test.
Setting Elite division rugby (union) team in Ireland
Participants Players from an elite rugby team in Ireland (n=50) participated the advanced pilot test.
Assessment of Risk Factors The key themes include current health outlook, tackle behaviour, awareness of risk acceptance, reasons for risk-taking, and safety consideration for other players.
Main Outcome Measurements The data were imported to SPSS for analysis of survey reliability and validity, such as the adoption of the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure.
Results Overall, the survey has a high internal consistency (Cronbach’s α= 0.742). Some sections require a further factor analysis, such as current health outlook, (KMO<0.823, p<0.001) and reasons for risk-taking (KMO<0.604, p=0.003). Some sections indicate the requirement for a larger sample size for further validation, such as safety consideration for other players (KMO<0.48, p<0.001). The participants’ qualitative comments on the viability of customising OSH concepts to sports context was also considered to refine the survey. Most players indicated a better understanding of risks relating to themselves than risks relating to opposition players.
Conclusions Such a survey enables the measuring of athletes’ safety and risk awareness level, which could possibly point the way forward for its application in a wider range of sport settings internationally for improving athletes’ long-term health and wellbeing.
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