Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center

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Information about project titled 'Preventing injuries in youth sport through an interdisciplinary and theory-based approach'

Preventing injuries in youth sport through an interdisciplinary and theory-based approach

Details about the project - category Details about the project - value
Project status: Ongoing
Project manager: Hege Grindem
Coworker(s): Emilie Scholten Sjølie, Christian Moen, Solveig Elisabeth Sand Hausken-Sutter


Background: Most injuries sustained by Norwegian youth occur in sports – despite strategic efforts to protect athlete health by the governing body: the Norwegian confederation of sports, and the handball and football federations. These injuries have multiple downstream public health consequences: First, substantial direct hospital expenses, second, an increasing population prevalence of long-term musculoskeletal disorders, and third, an increased dropout from organized sport during youth.

Lifelong participation in sport is a strategic focus area for the organizations, and a defined strategic objective is to ensure the safety of the athlete and that those in charge of sports activities protect athlete health. The main person in charge of sports activities in youth handball and football is the coach. Therefore, injury preventive interventions that are led by the coach are essential. However, current injury prevention programs are limited as they do not address sociocultural, biomedical, and health behavioral determinants in an integrated approach. Addressing this gap is essential to gain a comprehensive understanding of how programs should be designed to better prevent injuries in youth sport.

Objective: The primary objective of the project is to develop and evaluate a coach-led program based on interdisciplinary program theory from sports sociology, biomedicine, and health behavior to prevent first-time and recurrent injuries in youth handball and football.

Methods: The project applies a range of research methods (qualitative, quantitative, research synthesis) coupled with expert and user knowledge through five work packages. The first three work packages serve to produce knowledge on underlying assumptions about sport injury development and how injury prevention programs work. This knowledge feeds into work package four, where the state-of-the-art knowledge will be integrated with user knowledge into an interdisciplinary program theory and intervention. The fifth work package evaluates the intervention and underlying program theory.

Implications: Through collaboration between Norwegian sports organizations, leading research centers in Norway, Sweden and the UK, and athletes, coaches, parents and federation representatives, this project breaks with the traditional monodisciplinary sport injury research and will produce knowledge about the importance of, and interplay between, sociological, biomedical, and behavioral determinants through a combination of different research methods. The knowledge gained from this project will shape future Norwegian efforts to protect youth athlete health by elucidating 1) what should be done to prevent injuries in youth sports and 2) how it should be done to ensure maintained use. This knowledge will allow Norwegian youth to live healthy lives in the health-promoting environment of organized sports.