Sports Medicine

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 157–163 | Cite as

An Overview of Some Definitional Issues for Sports Injury Surveillance

  • Caroline F. FinchEmail author
Injury Surveillance Leading Article


Injury surveillance is the ongoing collection of data describing the occurrence of, and factors associated with, injury. The success of any sports injury surveillance system and its wide scale applicability is dependent upon valid and reliable definitions of sports injury, injury severity and sports participation.

Published sports injury reports are often difficult to interpret and compare with other published data because of different data collection and/or analysis methods. Standardised data collection methodologies including definitions are crucial for improving the comparability and interpretation of published data. Attention needs to be directed towards the definition of both risk and exposure factors since the validity and usefulness of the outcomes of research activities, data collection and surveillance systems rely on these. International consensus on appropriate definitions would greatly assist the collection of comparable and reliable sports injury data.

Standardised definitions are also needed to answer questions such as: ‘what is a sport? When should an activity be considered to be recreational rather than sport? Who is a sports participant? How should sports participation be measured? What is a meaningful measure of exposure to injury risk? What is a sports injury? How should sports injury severity be measured? How severe must an injury be before it should be considered to be a sports injury for surveillance purposes?’. Agreed definitions and answers to these questions are essential before injury surveillance is established.

Sports injury data is needed to guide injury prevention activities, to set and monitor sports safety policies and interventions, and as the basis of sports injury prevention research. All sports injury surveillance systems should therefore collect information about the epidemiology of sports injuries and their outcomes in a form that is of relevance across a broad range of potential users of the data.


Sport Participation Sport Injury Injury Surveillance Definitional Issue Sport Participant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Australian Sports Commission. Sport: a great investment. Canberra: Australian Sports Commission, 1993Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Requa RK, Garrick JG. Adult recreational fitness. In: Caine DJ, Caine CG, Lindner KJ, editors. Epidemiology of sports injuries. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics Publishers Inc., 1996: 14–28Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Finch CF, Ozanne-Smith J, Williams F. The feasibility of improved data collection methodologies for sports injuries: Monash University Accident Research Centre Report No. 69. Clayton, Australia: Monash University, 1995Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tenvergert E. Trends in sports injuries, 1982–1988: an in-depth study on four types of sport. J Sports Med Phys Fit 1992; 32(2): 214–20Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    LaPorte RE, Kohl HW, Dearwater SR, et al. Surveillance of serious recreational injuries: a capture-recapture approach. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1993; 25(2): 204–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Mueller FO, Blyth CS. Fatalities from head and cervical spine injuries occurring in tackle football. Clin Sports Med 1987; 6(11): 185–96PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Caine CG, Caine DJ, Lindner KJ. The epidemiologic approach to sports injuries. In: Caine DJ, Caine CG, Lindner KJ, editors. champaign (IL): Human Kinetics Publishers Inc., 1996: 1–13Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Finch C. Sports injury data collection requirements. In: Smith I, editor. Challenges ahead for improving sports statistics. Rome: Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), 1996: 217–26Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    van Mechelen W, Hlobil H, Kemper HCG. Incidence, severity, aetiology and prevention of sports injuries. Sports Med 1992; 14(2): 82–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    van Mechelen W. Sports injury surveillance systems. ‘One size fits all?’ Sports Med 1997; 24(3): 164–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Janda DH. Sports injury surveillance has everything to do with sports medicine. Sports Med 1997; 24(3): 169–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    de Loës M. Exposure data: why are they needed? Sports Med 1997; 24(3): 172–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    van Mechelen W. The severity of sports injuries. Sports Med 1997; 24(3): 176–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hrysomallis C, Morrison WE. Sports injury surveillance and protective equipment. Sports Med 1997; 24(3): 181–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Watkins J. The need for agreed procedures in sports injury epidemiological research. NZ J Sports Med 1995; 23(4) 34–7Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Stanitski CL. Management of sports injuries in children and adolescents. Orthop Clin North Am 1988; 19(4): 689–98PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Pelletier RL, Montelpare WJ, Stark RM. Intercollegiate ice hockey injuries: a case for uniform definition and reports. Am J Sports Med 1993; 21(1): 78–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Garrick JG, Requa RK. Ballet injuries: an analysis of epidemiology and financial outcome. Am J Sports Med 1993; 21(4): 586–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Monash University Accident Research CentreClaytonAustralia

Personalised recommendations