Implementation and evaluation of a club-based injury surveillance system within a community sport setting

2017-02-27T02:37:04Z (GMT) by Ekegren, Christina Louise
Despite a high frequency of injuries, there is no systematic injury data collection within Australian community sport. Most epidemiological data on sports injuries have been collected on professional and elite athletes and have limited relevance to community-level sporting populations. As a result, it has been difficult to develop effective injury prevention strategies for community sport settings. There is potential for injury surveillance systems based within community sports clubs to address this knowledge gap; however, there is a need to better understand the contextual challenges presented by community sport settings for conducting injury surveillance. It is also necessary to determine whether club-based personnel, such as sports trainers, are capable of recording accurate injury data. To focus the scope of this investigation, the research was conducted within the context of adult community-level Australian football. Community-level Australian football has a large participant base in Australia, a high frequency of injuries and a relatively well-organised approach to first-aid staffing. This setting therefore provided an ideal context for implementing and evaluating an injury surveillance system within community sport in order to determine its feasibility at a broader level. Data collection was carried out over the 2012 and 2013 football seasons, during which clubs from five community-level Australian football leagues used an online injury surveillance system, Sports Injury Tracker, to record their players’ injuries. The degree of system implementation was evaluated using the RE-AIM framework (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance). Semi-structured interviews of club-based personnel were used to gather qualitative information about the facilitators and barriers to the implementation of the system. Concurrently collected self-reported injury data obtained from players via short message service (SMS) were used to validate the club-based surveillance data. Finally, injury data recorded by club personnel over both 2012 and 2013 football seasons were pooled to determine the consistency of these data with previous studies in community-level Australian football. The research identified a range of barriers to implementing injury surveillance systems in community sport settings, including doubt about the importance of such endeavours, a shortage of time to record data amongst club personnel and a lack of organisational leadership. Data quality evaluations showed that while the profile of injuries was consistent with self-reported injury data and with previous studies in community-level Australian football, reported injury frequencies and rates were highly variable between clubs and, overall, lower than expected for this population. Club-based injury surveillance has the potential to provide important information about the types of injuries that occur in community sport and so could help inform injury prevention priorities. However, at present, recorded injury data have limited capacity to accurately estimate the public health burden of community sports injuries or to evaluate the effectiveness of injury prevention programs. Based on this knowledge, a range of recommendations has been made to improve the future implementation and quality of injury surveillance systems in community sport settings.