Sex-Specific Differences in Perceived Injury Management and Prevention in High School Student-Athletes
Keywords:High school athlete, female athlete, sport injury, injury prevention, sex difference, womens sports medicine
BACKGROUND: Sport-related injuries are common among high school student-athletes with specific sex disparities in injury risk. Many of these injuries may be avoidable with the use of injury prevention programs (IPPs). Sex differences in injury management and return to sport are not well understood.
PURPOSE: To determine sex-specific differences in self-reported injury management and prevention strategies in high school student-athletes.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional, survey-based study.
METHODS: An anonymous 13-item electronic survey was distributed to all students in a private high school in December 2019 with responses recorded over a one-month study period. Primary outcomes were sex-specific differences in self-reported outcome measures assessing student-athlete experience during injury recovery and familiarity with IPPs. Groups were evaluated via descriptive statistics and differences between groups were compared.
RESULTS: From a total of 190 responses, 106 were included in the analysis (63F, 43M, mean age 16.7 years). Female athletes reported decreased exposure to injury prevention training (44.4% vs 69.8%, p=0.01) and practice-based utilization of IPPs (23.8% vs 55.8%, p=0.001) compared to male athletes. Overall, reported utilization of IPPs was low regardless of sex at less than 40% for all athletes. Nearly 85% of female athletes compared to 51% of male athletes felt they could benefit from IPPs (p=0.001), yet fewer than half of female athletes reported ever having training in injury prevention. There were no statistically significant differences in measures of injury management or return to sport between sexes. Females reported similar major impact of injury on life and future plans compared to male athletes.
CONCLUSIONS: Male athletes were 1.6x more likely to report injury prevention training and 2.4x more likely to report practice-based utilization of IPPs compared to female athletes. Sex-specific differences in injury management and return to sport were not identified. Better incorporation of IPPs, specifically at the high-school level, may help to address sex disparities in preventable sport-related injuries and allow student-athletes to maximize the myriad benefits of sport participation.
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