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Prevention of sports injuries in children at school: a systematic review of policies
  1. Anya Göpfert1,
  2. Maria Van Hove2,
  3. Alan Emond1,
  4. Julie Mytton3
  1. 1 Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2 Acute Medical Unit, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, UK
  3. 3 Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anya Göpfert; anyagopfert{at}


Background Participation in sports as a child improves physical and psychological health. Schools need to promote sport while protecting against injury. It is not clear whether increasing evidence on injury prevention generated from professional sport is influencing school sports practices. This study reviewed policies promoting sport safety in schools to determine whether exposure to injury risk is recognised and whether evidence based prevention and management are included.

Methods A search strategy to identify policies for children aged 4–18 years was applied to electronic databases and grey literature sources. Safeguarding policies were excluded. Included policies were critically appraised and synthesised using modified framework analysis.

Results Twenty-six policies were analysed. Most (57.7%) were from the USA. Ten (38.5%) focused solely on concussion. Synthesis identified primary, secondary and tertiary injury prevention measures relating to people (staff, students and parents), systems, school physical environment and national-level factors.

Conclusions Robust, evidence-based policies for reducing injury risk in school sports are limited. Guidelines with the largest evidence base were focused on concussion, with other school sport guidelines showing limited inclusion of evidence. Where included, evidence focused on injury management rather than prevention and frequently applied evidence from adult to children. Guidance was not specific to the child’s age, gender or developmental stage.

  • primary school
  • secondary school
  • school
  • children
  • injury prevention

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  • AGöp and MVH are joint first authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Contributors This study was conducted by AG as part of a Severn Deanery Academic Foundation Programme Year 2 research placement under the supervision of JM and AE and supported by MvH.

  • Data sharing statement There are no unpublished data.