Background Injury perceptions and related risk-mitigating interventions are context-dependent. Despite this, most injury surveillance systems guided by established consensus statements are not context-specific as they do not integrate stakeholders’ perspectives. Accordingly, to address the injury problem in context, injury surveillance systems need to be aligned with the stakeholders’ injury perceptions and practices related to its reporting and management.
Objective To explore how Maltese national team football players, coaches, and health professionals (stakeholders) perceive a football-related injury and how their context influences their perceptions and behaviours towards reporting and managing a football injury.
Design A qualitative exploratory design was used.
Setting This study was undertaken at the Malta Football Association (MFA), responsible for the Maltese national football teams.
Participants 13 semi-structured interviews with Maltese female and male national team football players (n=7), coaches (n=3), and health professionals (n=3) were conducted. Data were analysed inductively using thematic analysis.
Results Three themes were identified: (1) How do I perceive an injury? consisted of various constructs of a sports injury, yet commonly defined based on performance limitations. (2) How do I deal with an injury? encapsulated the process of managing the injury (3) What influences my perception, reporting and management of an injury? comprised personal and contextual factors that influenced the perception and, consequently, the management of an injury.
Conclusions The injury surveillance system implemented within the Maltese national football team should make use of performance limitations as the main injury definition. Injury perception, reporting and management are influenced by the socio-ecological context. In acknowledging this influence, ongoing human interaction should be involved between stakeholders in all the processes of the injury surveillance system, emphasising its active role to optimise the players’ injury risk mitigation and management.
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