Risk-taking behavior in skiing among helmet wearers and nonwearers

Wilderness Environ Med. 2011 Dec;22(4):291-6. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2011.09.001.


Objective: To examine differences in on-the-snow ski behavior between helmet wearers and nonwearers.

Methods: The data were collected using a survey. Several tourist agencies helped in administrating the survey to the skiers during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons. The survey consisted of multiple-choice questions. The subjects were asked to choose answers most suitable for their skiing style and preferred skiing technique, volume of off-piste skiing, readiness to use time measuring systems on the slopes, and group-skiing preferences, such as leading the group, beside the group, away from the group, etc. The Risk Index was then calculated for each subject.

Results: The answers of 710 skiers (mean age 35.5, range 16-81 years) were analyzed. The predictive power for risk-taking behavior was tested for gender, age, educational level, level of skiing, years of skiing, and helmet usage. Younger age, male gender, higher skiing level, and helmet usage were used as independent predictors for the overall Risk Index (Power [1-β err prob] = 0.942). Significantly higher risk was assessed for the male helmet wearers while the results were not significant for the female helmet wearers. The male occasional helmet wearers were found to be the most prone to risky behavior. In female nonhelmet wearers, there was a significant decrease in risk-taking behavior with age but this was not true for female helmet wearers.

Conclusions: For males under 35 years of age, helmet use is one of the factors influencing risk-taking on the slopes. This is demonstrated for occasional helmet wearers in particular.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Brain Injuries / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Safety
  • Sex Factors
  • Skiing / injuries
  • Skiing / psychology*
  • Young Adult