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125 Injury associated with dance education: a systematic review
  1. Meghan Critchley1,
  2. Sarah Kenny1,2,3,
  3. Ashleigh Ritchie4,
  4. Katy Chambers4,5,
  5. Carly D McKay6
  1. 1Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  3. 3O’Brien Institute for Public Health, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  4. 4Royal Academy of Dance, London, UK
  5. 5Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London, UK
  6. 6Department for Health, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, UK


Background Several studies have investigated injury in specific genres (i.e., ballet, contemporary) and/or levels (i.e., pre-professional, professional) of dance. Less is known about injuries sustained during the teaching of dance, which accounts for the highest proportion of the global dance community.

Objective To determine the risk of injury associated with participation in organized dance education.

Design Systematic review.

Setting Formal dance education (e.g., community classes, dance schools/studios, university programs).

Patients (or Participants) Dance students and teachers.

Main Outcome Measurements Six electronic databases were searched to August 2020 (Medline, EMBASE, SportDiscus, CINAHL, SCOPUS, Cochrane). Inclusion criteria were: original data from dance teacher/student samples, injury and exposure related to formal dance classes, any dance genre. Studies were excluded if no estimate of exposure was reported, if injuries occurred during rehearsal/performance, or if dance was used as a therapeutic intervention or for exercise. Two reviewers independently assessed each paper for inclusion at abstract and full text screening stages. Study quality was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute Level of Evidence tool.

Results Twenty-five papers were included.

Most studies (n=22) focused on dance students only, two included only dance teachers, and one study included both. The quality of studies ranged from poor to moderate. For students and teachers, most injuries were overuse/chronic and involved the lower limb. Student injury rates were estimated at 0.8–9.3 injuries/1000 h. In dance teachers, a single study described 732 pain reports/1000 h and injury incidence estimates ranged from 0.86–1.25 injuries/dance teacher. Due to limited investigation of risk factors, results could not be stratified by sex, age, or dance style.

Conclusions There have been few primary investigations of injury in dance education settings, despite large rates of dance participation. Consistent injury and exposure definitions, and high-quality prospective studies are needed for examining injury risk in the dance teaching environment.

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