Introduction Several recent high-profile sports-related deaths have highlighted the significance of these events for the general public. However, dedicated data collection of sport-related serious and fatal injuries remains limited. The purpose of this review was to 1) consider whether existing data sources are adequate to capture sport-related fatalities, and 2) describe the potential for these to be used for surveillance of sports-related fatalities.
Methods Data sources used to record fatalities were identified, drawing from the authors’ knowledge/experience and a review of key international injury surveillance guidelines from the World Health Organization, United States National Center for Health Statistics, and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The purpose, case identification, structure, strengths, and limitations of each source in relation to sport-related fatalities were considered. Examples from peer reviewed literature were identified to illustrate the use of different data sources.
Results Seven groups of data sources were tabulated:  surveillance systems, registries;  government vital statistics;  emergency services;  insurance, compensation;  sport/club specific;  research studies; and  publicly available records, such as media reports). The ability to identify features of sport-relatedness was a common limitation of data sources. Other shortcomings of extant data sources included lack of data on participant-exposures; restrictions on types of deaths captured; and the limitations in the level of detail on activity and circumstances. Data sources dedicated to sports fatality surveillance were most relevant in terms of activity-based information, but these were uncommon. Only one source permitted international comparisons and was limited to one sport (soccer).
Conclusion Data on sport-related fatalities are currently collected using a range of disparate approaches. This review highlights that existing data sources are insufficient to capture all sport-related fatalities. We recommend establishing a consistent, comprehensive and standardised approach that would facilitate international sharing of data on fatal sports injuries.
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