Objectives: To determine if attitudes associated with body checking, emotional empathy, and aggression differ between players in body checking and non-body checking hockey leagues and to determine the influence of these attitudes on injury rates.
Design: Prospective cohort.
Setting: Participants were randomly recruited by team from the Calgary Minor Hockey Association at the beginning of the 2006-2007 season.
Participants: There were 283 participants from Pee Wee (aged 11-12 years), Bantam (aged 13-14 years), and Midget (aged 15-16 years) teams. Of 13 teams from the body checking league, 138 players participated, and of 24 teams in the non-body checking league, 145 players participated.
Assessment of risk factors: Participants completed 4 self-report questionnaires: (1) Medical Questionnaire, (2) Body Checking Questionnaire, (3) Empathy Index for Children and Adolescents, and (4) Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire.
Main outcome measures: Participants were followed through the season for injury reports. The injury definition included any hockey injury resulting in medical attention, the inability to complete a hockey session, and/or missing a subsequent hockey session.
Results: Body checking players reported more positive attitudes toward body checking (35.59; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 34.52-36.65) than non-body checking players (22.43; 95% CI, 21.38-23.49; t = -17.34; P < 0.00005). There was no significant difference in the empathy scores between cohorts (t = 1.51, P = 0.13). The mean aggression score for the body checking players (76.22; 95% CI, 73.18-79.25) was significantly higher than the mean for the non-body checking players (70.57; 95% CI, 67.35-73.80; t = -2.52; P = 0.013).
Conclusions: Body checking seems to influence attitudes toward body checking and aggression, but attitudes toward body checking, empathy, and aggression did not influence injury rates.