Screening for Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport and Female Athlete Triad: A Survey of Pediatric Sports Medicine Professionals


  • Emily A. Sweeney, MD University of Colorado School of Medicine; Children's Hospital Colorado Sports Medicine Center
  • Madison Brna, BS University of Colorado School of Medicine; Children's Hospital Colorado Sports Medicine Center
  • David Howell, PhD University of Colorado School of Medicine; Children's Hospital Colorado Sports Medicine Center
  • Aubrey Armento, MD University of Colorado School of Medicine; Children's Hospital Colorado Sports Medicine Center
  • Gabrielle Gilmer, BChE Medical Scientist Training Program, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Program, University of Pittsburgh
  • Corinna Franklin, MD Yale School of Medicine, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation



screen, RED-S, female athlete triad, injury prevention, stress fracture


BACKGROUND: Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, or RED-S, is a multi-scale physiological response to a mismatch between energy intake and exercise energy expenditure that affects up to 50% of adolescent athletes. RED-S symptomology was first described as the Female Athlete Triad (the Triad) and includes specifically low energy availability with or without disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction, and low bone mineral density. Despite the wide impact of RED-S/the Triad, there is a lack of standardization of screening in adolescent athletes. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess if there are differences in practitioner demographics when screening for RED-S/the Triad in adolescent athletes. In addition, we sought to assess if providers’ screening habits differ based on specific patient characteristics. 

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional online questionnaire of members of the Pediatric Research in Sports Medicine (PRiSM) Society. PRiSM is an interdisciplinary group of professionals who are dedicated to advancing the research and medical care of young athletes. The questionnaire assessed screening tools that members used to assess for RED-S/the Triad, practices implemented when providers were concerned for RED-S/the Triad, demographic data, and type of training.

RESULTS: Of 389 PRiSM members, 60 completed the survey and were included in subsequent analyses (15% response rate). Most participants were primary care sports medicine physicians (37%), orthopaedic surgeons (27%), or physical therapists (23%), and about half of respondents identified as a cis gender woman (55%). There was a trend toward more women screening for RED-S routinely than men (55% vs. 33%: p=0.10), and orthopaedic surgeons were less likely to screen than other specialties (25% vs. 52%, p = 0.06). Eating disorders (88%), menstrual dysfunction (76%), and bone stress injury (74%) were reported as specific red flags that make providers screen for RED-S/the Triad. Participants reported that lack of time (57%) and lack of resources (37%) were barriers to screen for RED-S/the Triad. The most commonly utilized tools to screen for RED-S/the Triad were the Female Athlete Screening Tool (FAST), Female Athlete Triad Risk Scale, Female Athlete Triad Consensus Panel Screening questions, and RED-S Specific Screening Tool (RST).

CONCLUSION: Orthopaedic surgeons were less likely than other health care professionals to screen for RED-S/the Triad. Barriers that prevent healthcare providers from screening for RED-S/the Triad included limited time and resources. By describing current practices, we have identified gaps and areas of need to enhance screening for RED-S/the Triad across multiple sports medicine disciplines.


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How to Cite

Screening for Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport and Female Athlete Triad: A Survey of Pediatric Sports Medicine Professionals. (2024). Journal of Women’s Sports Medicine, 4(1), 30-38.

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