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Protecting the world’s finest athletes: periodic health evaluation practices of the top performing National Olympic Committees from the 2016 Rio or 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games
  1. Dustin Nabhan1,2,
  2. David Taylor1,2,
  3. Melie Lewis1,2,
  4. Roald Bahr3
  1. 1Sports Medicine, United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
  2. 2US Coalition for Prevention of Illness and Injury in Sport, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
  3. 3Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Dustin Nabhan, Sports Medicine, United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, Colorado Springs, CO, 80919, USA; nabhandc{at}


Aim To describe the periodic health evaluation (PHE) practices of the top performing National Olympic Committees (NOCs).

Methods We sent a survey to NOCs finishing in the top 8 for medal count at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games or 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games. The survey included four sections: (1) PHE staff composition and roles, (2) beliefs regarding the PHE, (3) a ranking of risk factors for future injury and (4) details on the elements of the PHE.

Results All 14 NOCs with top 8 finishes at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games or 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games completed the survey. NOCs included a median of seven staff specialties in the PHE, with physicians and physiotherapists having the highest level of involvement. There was agreement that PHEs are effective in identifying current health conditions (13/14) and that athletes should receive individualised action plans after their PHE (14/14), but less agreement (6/14) that PHEs can predict future injury. The practices of NOCs were diverse and often specific to the athlete population being tested, but always included the patient’s health history, laboratory studies, cardiovascular screening and assessments of movement capacity. The top three risk factors for future injury were thought to be previous injury, age and training experience.

Conclusions Among the top performing NOCs, the PHE is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary process aimed to identify existing conditions and provide baseline health and performance profiles in the event of future injury. Research linking PHEs to injury prevention is needed.

  • epidemiology
  • injury prevention
  • sports and exercise medicine
  • olympics

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  • Contributors All authors conceived and planned the project, participated in data collection and data analysis/interpretation. All authors participated in writing the manuscript. DN and RB directed the project.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This project was approved by the ethics board of Southern California University of Health Sciences (Whittier, California, USA).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information. All data relevant to the study are included in the study.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.