Injury and disability in matched men's and women's intercollegiate sports

Am J Public Health. 1990 Dec;80(12):1459-62. doi: 10.2105/ajph.80.12.1459.


Eight matched men's and women's intercollegiate varsity teams were studied prospectively for one academic year to determine the incidence of athletic injury and resulting disability. Sports in which both men and women participated in a comparable manner were chosen: basketball, fencing, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, indoor track, outdoor track, and volleyball. Men (232) and women (150) were injured at comparable rates, 42 percent versus 39 percent. When adjusted for exposure time, seven of the eight sports continued to show similar injury rates. Women gymnasts, however, experienced .82 injuries per 100 person-hours of exposure as compared to .21 injuries for the men (p = .0001). Disability was greater in women gymnasts, 7.44 days per 100 person-hours versus 1.15 days for men (p = .0004). Percent of season lost to injury was also greater for women gymnasts. Types and sites of injury were similar for men and women, with sprains and strains accounting for over half of all injuries. We found no evidence for gender differences in matched sports except for gymnastics, in which technically diverse events may have accounted for the differences observed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Universities*