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Methods, challenges and benefits of a health monitoring programme for Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic athletes: the road from London 2012 to Tokyo 2020
  1. Benjamin Clarsen1,2,3,
  2. Kathrin Steffen1,2,
  3. Hilde Moseby Berge1,2,
  4. Fredrik Bendiksen1,
  5. Bjørn Fossan1,
  6. Hilde Fredriksen1,2,
  7. Hilde Gjelsvik1,
  8. Lars Haugvad1,
  9. Mona Kjelsberg1,
  10. Ola Ronsen1,
  11. Thomas Torgalsen1,
  12. Anders Walløe1,
  13. Roald Bahr1,2
  1. 1Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian Olympic Training Centre (Olympiatoppen), Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Centre for Disease Burden, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Bergen, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Benjamin Clarsen, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo PB 4014, Norway; ben.clarsen{at}nih.no

Abstract

Objective To describe the implementation of a health monitoring programme for Norwegian Paralympic and Olympic candidates over five consecutive Olympic and Paralympic Games cycles (London 2012, Sochi 2014, Rio de Janeiro 2016, PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020).

Methods Athletes were monitored for 12–18 months preparing for the games using a weekly online questionnaire (OSTRC-H2) with follow-up by physicians and physiotherapists, who provided clinical care and classified reported problems.

Results Between 2011 and 2020, 533 Olympic and 95 Paralympic athletes were included in the monitoring programme, with an overall response of 79% to the weekly questionnaire and a total observation period of 30 826 athlete weeks. During this time, 3770 health problems were reported, with a diagnosis rate of 97%. The average prevalence of health problems at any given time was 32% among Olympic athletes and 37% among Paralympic athletes. Acute traumatic injuries represented the greatest burden for Olympic team sport athletes, and illnesses represented the greatest burden for Olympic endurance and Paralympic athletes. On average, Olympic athletes lost 27 days and Paralympic athletes lost 33 days of training per year due to health problems.

Conclusion Conducting long-term health monitoring of Olympic and Paralympic athletes is challenging, particularly because athletes travel frequently and often relate to many medical providers. This programme has been implemented and improved within Team Norway for five Olympic and Paralympic cycles and during this time we believe it has helped protect our athletes’ health.

  • olympics
  • surveillance

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Requests to access the data will be considered by the authors, within the constraints of privacy and consent.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Requests to access the data will be considered by the authors, within the constraints of privacy and consent.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @benclarsen, @HildeMBerge

  • Contributors BC and RB planned and designed the study, and all authors contributed to data collection and interpretation. BC and KS analysed the data and drafted the paper with editorial input from HMB and RB. All authors provided critical revisions and contributed to the final manuscript. BC and RB are the guarantors.

  • Funding The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic team health monitoring programme has been supported by a generous grant from Olympic Solidarity since 2016. KS has received funding from Stiftelsen VI since August 2019.

  • Competing interests KS is the coeditor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine-Injury Prevention and Health Protection. In the period these data were collected, the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center has had non-financial research partnerships with SpartaNova (2013–2016) and FitStats Technologies (2017 to present).

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

  • 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.

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