Statement of Purpose Fatal sport-related injuries are rare yet carry tremendous significance for individuals, schools, communities and healthcare systems. Publicly available media sources (e.g., news articles) and reports from national and state organizations and other sources are the primary means for capturing these events. Availability of autopsies and cause of death vary by state and jurisdiction. The purpose of this study was to explore the utility of linking sport-related injury deaths from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR) database to National Death Index (NDI) records.
Methods/Approach Deaths from the NCCSIR database from 1982–2013 were linked to NDI records using probabilistic matching with the following variables: name, date of death, state of death, and birth year. NDI coded causes of death were applied using the International Classification of Disease in effect at the time of the death (version 9 or 10). Likelihood of record matching by demographic factors and, of those that matched, the cause of death agreement between sources was presented.
Results NCCSIR captured 914 fatalities (705 high school, 169 collegiate, 40 middle school); 569 records (62.3%) were potential matches. After review, 96.8% (551/569) were considered matches. Likelihood of record matching varied by level (46.7% collegiate, 62.7% high school, and 75.0% middle school) and time period (54.5% 1982–1999 and 67.1% 2000–2013). NDI source attributed exertional heat stroke to excessive heat 69.0% (27/42) and excessive heat caused by environment 52.4% (22/42) of the time. Accidents were identified by NDI source as the cause in 94.4% of traumatic brain injury and 61.5% of commotio cordis injury deaths.
Conclusions There is variation in source linkage by sport level and time period. Cause of death identification varied by injury type.
Significance Determining the causes of sport-related injury/illness death is critical to understanding the burden and how to prevent them.
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