Sports-related injuries in primary health care

Fam Pract. 2011 Feb;28(1):29-33. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmq075. Epub 2010 Oct 5.


Introduction: Sports activities play an important role in today's society. However, as more people become involved in these activities, the number of sports-related injuries also increases. In the Netherlands, 3.5 million sports injuries occur annually. Twenty per cent of these injuries are first seen by a GP. Little is known about the epidemiology of these injuries in general practice. This study has been conducted to determine the incidence and prevalence of sports-related injuries in general practice and to provide information about the nature and treatment of these injuries.

Methods: Survey study conducted in 612 patients with sports-related injuries by 21 GP trainees in as many GP practices. Inclusion of study subjects took place between September 2007 and April 2009.

Results: In total, 694 sports-related injuries were registered. The incidence of sports-related injuries was 23.7 in 1000 patients and prevalence 27.8 in 1000 patients. Soccer-related injuries are most prominent in this population, lower extremities being three times more often involved than upper extremities. GPs often (60.9%) used a symptom-based diagnosis. In 80% of the cases, no additional diagnostic testing took place, while in 36.5% of the cases, only explanation and advice sufficed. Few patients were referred to the hospital (6.6%).

Discussion: Patients with sports-related injuries regularly consult GPs (on average one to two times per week). GPs tend to use non-specific diagnoses in sports-related injuries. In part, this may be due to the lack of specific diagnoses available in the current registration system (International Classification of Primary Care). Most often these injuries require only explanation and medical advice from the GP. Usually, additional tests or hospital referrals are not necessary. Presumably, mostly patients with mild sports-related injuries consult the GP.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult