Retrospective Designs in Sports Injury Surveillance Studies: All is not Lost.
In sports injury research observational studies are most commonly either prospective or retrospective in nature. Retrospective studies collect historical data over a fixed period of time whereas prospective studies follow a cohort over a set future period of time.
For example, the athlete may report upper limb injury but not able to specifically state whether it was the forearm, elbow or the shoulder. However, body part distribution of injuries is important information to explain the nature and mechanism of injury as some parts like the shoulder and lower back are more susceptible to overuse injuries. Providing an outline sketch of front and back of the human body and the list of different body parts in the questionnaire can stimulate better recall of the specific part injured.
It is quite natural that the athlete may not be able to recall all the injuries sustained in the past over a particular time frame. In addition, many athletes tend to maintain regular training and event logs. Many a times the athletes also retain copies of medical documents in their diaries.
In summary, retrospective sports injury surveillance studies have the advantage of being time, cost and resource efficient and encourage greater participant compliance. However, the element of recall bias can significantly affect the validity of the data. It is therefore critical for sports injury researchers to pre-empt this possibility and adopt context-specific measures to maximize the accuracy, reliability and validity of the data.
Sport Exerc Med Open J. 2015; 1(5): 164-166. doi: 10.17140/SEMOJ-1-125