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From ‘faster, higher, stronger’ to ‘slower, calmer, wiser’ - together: incorporating the athlete voice in sports medicine
  1. Jane S Thornton1,2,
  2. Roald Bahr3,4,5
  1. 1 Western Centre for Public Health and Family Medicine, Schulich School for Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Institute of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4 Norwegian Olympic Training Center (Olympiatoppen), Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports, Oslo, Norway
  5. 5 Aspetar Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jane S Thornton, Western Centre for Public Health and Family Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada; jane.s.thornton{at}

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Why the athlete voice?

As the world eagerly anticipates the opening of each new Olympic and Paralympic Games, medical teams and team physicians prepare to care for the optimal health and performance of thousands of athletes. While injuries and illnesses at the Games are inevitable,1–3 research points to a powerful tool to help us care better: the athlete voice.

An increasing awareness of the positive impact on health outcomes that come with prioritising athletes’ perspectives has led to calls to integrate the athlete voice and context. Examples include incorporating van Mechelen’s theoretical framework on injury prevention,4 to new models for shared decision-making when returning to play5 and the development and promotion of the BJSM Patient Voices series.6–8 As sports medicine physicians, how do we effectively incorporate the athlete voice into our practice and translate this to better care?

This year’s seventh International Olympic Committee (IOC) World Conference on Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport’s pioneering symposium series, ‘Hearing Unheard’.9 This series shed light on this ‘critical yet often overlooked aspect of sport,’ introducing an athlete engagement framework which emphasised that athletes’ ‘lived expertise’ is of equal importance to the scientific and medical expertise of others on the team.10 For the first time, athletes presented their own perspectives. Athlete-centred care is also a core element of the IOC Advanced Team Physician Course–a programme specifically designed for physicians from …

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  • X @janesthornton

  • Contributors JST conceived of the idea. JST and RB wrote the original draft, reviewed and edited subsequent drafts and approved the final manuscript. JST is the guarantor.

  • Funding JST holds a Canada Research Chair in Injury Prevention and Physical Activity for Health funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

  • Competing interests JST is an Editor of the BJSM.

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