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Eur J Emerg Med. 2012 Apr;19(2):73-6. doi: 10.1097/MEJ.0b013e328348b460.

A pilot case-control study of behavioral aspects and risk factors in Swiss climbers.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Bern, Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland.



Climbing is a popular sport in Switzerland, with approximately 100 000 active participants. There is an inherent risk of falls, overuse and stress-related trauma, with a reported injury rate of 4.2 injuries per 1000 climbing hours.


Comparison of possible risk factors in patients and noninjured controls.


A case-control survey was conducted. Climbers admitted to three trauma units between June and October 2008 were surveyed using a questionnaire evaluating nine potential risk factors. The same questionnaire was distributed to noninjured climbers during the same time period. Logistic regression was performed.


Fifty patients and 63 controls were included in this survey. Variables significant for patients were: more than 10 years versus less than 1 year of climbing experience (odds ratio: 5.34; confidence interval: 1.16-17.76; P=0.006) and no previous experiences of the climbing route (odds ratio: 2.72; confidence interval: 1.15-6.39; P=0.022). No statistical significance was detected for age, sex, difficulty level of the climbing route, warm-up, readiness for risk and abstinence from alcohol and drugs.


Climbers with higher experience seem to be more prone to injuries. Larger studies on this subgroup are warranted, to identify typical risk profiles and to develop preventive strategies. Furthermore, climbers should be advised about the increased injury risk when trying new climbing routes and specific information should be given.

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