The extent to which behavioural and social sciences theories and models are used in sport injury prevention research

Sports Med. 2010 Oct 1;40(10):841-58. doi: 10.2165/11534960-000000000-00000.


Behavioural and social science theories and models (BSSTM) can enhance efforts to increase health and safety behaviours, such as the uptake and maintenance of injury prevention measures. However, the extent to which they have been used in sports injury research to date is currently unknown. A systematic review of 24 electronic databases was undertaken to identify the extent to which BSSTM have been incorporated into published sports injury prevention research studies and to identify which theories were adopted and how they were used. After assessment against specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, the full text of 100 potentially relevant papers was reviewed in detail. These papers were classified as follows: (i) explicit - the use of BSSTM was a stated key aspect in the design or conduct of the study; or (ii) atheoretical - there was no clear evidence for the use of BSSTM. The studies that explicitly mentioned BSSTM were assessed for how BSSTM were specifically used. Amongst the 100 identified papers, only eleven (11% of the total) explicitly mentioned BSSTM. Of these, BSSTM were most commonly used to guide programme design/implementation (n = 8) and/or to measure a theory/construct (n = 7). In conclusion, very few studies relating to sport safety behaviours have explicitly used any BSSTM. It is likely that future sports injury prevention efforts will only be enhanced, and achieve successful outcomes, if increased attention is given to fully understanding the behavioural determinants of safety actions. Appropriate use of BSSTM is critical to provide the theoretical basis to guide these efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Behavioral Sciences*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Safety*
  • Social Sciences