Objective: The Western Australian Sports Injury Study is the first prospective cohort study of sports injuries sustained during community-level sports participation in Australia.
Methods: The players were nonprofessional/non-elite participants of hockey, Australian football, basketball and netball from metropolitan Perth. Players completed a baseline questionnaire relating to their sports injury history, training practices, protective equipment use, demographic profile, general health and lifestyle factors. Sports participation and injury experiences were monitored by monthly telephone surveys over two consecutive five-month winter sporting seasons during 1997 and 1998.
Results: Of the 1,512 players recruited into the initial cohort, 966 (i.e. 64%) responded to at least 700% of the callback surveys over the two-year follow-up. Across all sports, the injury incidence rate was 16.1 injuries/ 1,000 exposure hours (both games and training). Injury rates were highest in Australian football and lowest in netball. Lower limb injuries were twice as common as those to the upper limb (67% vs. 31%). Three-quarters of injured players sought treatment from a health care practitioner.
Conclusions and implications: This is the first longitudinal study of injuries to community-based sports participants in Australia. Compared with elite sports participants, the risk of injury is relatively low. The results provide valuable direction for the design and conduct of further aetiological studies.