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Br J Sports Med. 2003 Dec;37(6):545-7.

How valid is a self reported 12 month sports injury history?

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Central and Eastern Clinical School, Alfred Hospital, University of Monash, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. belinda.gabbe@med.monash.edu.au



A past injury history is one of the most commonly cited risk factors for sports injury. Often, injury history data are collected by self report surveys, with the potential for recall bias.


To assess the accuracy of a 12 month injury history recall in a population of 70 community level Australian football players.


The retrospective, self reported injury histories of 70 community level Australian football players were compared with prospective injury surveillance records for the same 12 month period. The accuracy of the players' recall of the number of injuries, injured body regions, and injury diagnosis was assessed.


Recall accuracy declined as the level of detail requested increased. All players could recall whether or not they were injured during the previous year. Almost 80% were able to accurately recall the number of injuries and body regions injured, but not the diagnoses, whereas only 61% were able to record the exact number, body region, and diagnosis of each injury sustained.


The findings of this study highlight the difficulty of using retrospectively collected injury data for research purposes. Any injury research relying on self reported injury history data to establish the relation between injury history and injury risk should consider the validity of the self report injury histories.

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