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Estimating the international burden of sport-related death: a review of data sources
  1. Kristen L Kucera1,
  2. Lauren V Fortington2,
  3. Catherine S Wolff3,
  4. Stephen W Marshall3,4,
  5. Caroline F Finch2
  1. 1 Department of Exercise and Sport Science, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2 Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP), Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  4. 4 Injury Prevention Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kristen L Kucera, Department of Exercise & Sport Science, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8700, USA; kkucera{at}


Introduction Despite detailed recommendations for sports injury data capture provided since the mid-1990s, international data collection efforts for sport-related death remains limited in scope. The purpose of this paper was to review the data sources available for studying sport-related death and describe their key features, coverage, accessibility and strengths and limitations.

Methods The outcomes of interest for this review was death occurring as a result of participation in organised sport-related activity. Data sources used to enumerate death in sport were identified, drawing from the authors’ knowledge/experience and review of key references from international organisations. The general purpose, case identification, structure, strengths and limitations of each source in relation to collection of data for sport-related death were summarised, drawing on examples from the international published literature to illustrate this application.

Results Seven types of resources were identified for capturing deaths in sport. Data sources varied considerably in their ability to identify: participant status, sport relatedness of the death, types of sport-related deaths they capture, level of detail provided about the circumstances and medical care received. The most detailed sources were those that were dedicated to sports surveillance. Sport relatedness and type of sport may not be reliably captured by systems not dedicated to sports injury surveillance. Only one source permitted international comparisons and was limited to one sport (soccer).

Conclusion Data on sport-related death are currently collected across a wide variety of data sources. This review highlights the need for robust, comprehensive approaches with standardised methodologies enabling linkage between sources and international comparisons.

  • recreation/sports
  • mortality
  • surveillance
  • epidemiology
  • registry

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  • Contributors All authors have contributed to the following: (1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; (2) drafting the article or reviewing it and, if appropriate, revising it critically for important intellectual content; (3) and final approval of the version to be published.

  • Funding KLK is the director of The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR), which is funded by the following organisations: the American Football Coaches Association, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Federation of State High School Associations, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. SWM and the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center are partially supported by an Injury Control Research Center award (R49/CE002479) from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP) is one of the International Research Centres for Prevention of Injury and Protection of Athlete Health supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.