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188 The retired olympian musculoskeletal health study (ROMHS) cohort: recruitment of 3,357 olympians and 1,735 general population controls
  1. Debbie Palmer1,2,
  2. Dale Cooper3,
  3. Carolyn Emery4,
  4. Mark Batt5,6,
  5. Lars Engebretsen7,8,
  6. Brigitte Scammell6,9,
  7. Torbjørn Soligard8,
  8. Kathrin Steffen7,
  9. Jackie Whittaker4,10,
  10. Richard Budgett8
  1. 1School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Institute for Sport, PE and Health Sciences, Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3School of Allied Health Professions, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  4. 4Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
  5. 5Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, Nottingham, UK
  6. 6Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis Versus Arthritis, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
  7. 7Department of Sports Medicine, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  8. 8Medical and Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  9. 9School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  10. 10Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada


Background Elite athletes are exposed to high physiological training and competition loads and associated increased injury risk. While there is a wealth of evidence reporting the prevalence of injuries seasonally and during major games events, there are few studies examining injury risk across an elite athlete’s entire sporting-career.

Objective Recruit a representative sample of Olympians who have retired from elite competition, and general population controls, in order to examine Olympic-career injury patterns and risk, and their association with current health status.

Design Cross-sectional survey of sporting and injury history, and general health.

Setting Olympians and the general population, from 209 countries worldwide.

Patients (or Participants) Athletes who had competed at a Summer and/or Winter Olympic Games and considered themselves retired from Olympic level training and competition; members of the general population who had not competed at an Olympic Games.

Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) Recruitment of participants took place over a 14-month period (Apr 2018-May 2019), during which an electronic survey was distributed, in eight languages, by email and social media through World Olympians Association and International Olympic Committee channels. Platforms included, National Olympians Associations, National Olympic Committees, International Federations, Athlete 365 and Olympic Studies Centre. Control recruitment also involved Olympian ‘buddies’, and regional leisure, medical and community centres.

Main Outcome Measurements Number and distribution of Olympian and control participants.

Results There were 4,745 Olympian and 2,462 control online survey entries. Data cleaning removed 1,388 Olympian and 727 control ineligible entries (e.g. blank, duplicate, incomplete, under-16 yrs) leaving 3,357 Olympian (age 16–97) and 1,735 control (age 16–88) completed questionnaires, from 131 and 73 Countries (respectively) eligible for data analysis.

Conclusions The distribution of Olympians and controls recruited to the study, and recording of lifetime injury history, sport and exercise exposure and general health measures, will allow analyses of risk factors associated with Olympic-career injury and current health status.

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