Psychological interventions used to reduce sports injuries: a systematic review of real-world effectiveness

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Abstract

Objective

To systematically review studies examining the role of psychological interventions in injury prevention. The primary research question was: What is the real-world effectiveness of psychological intervention in preventing sports injuries?

Design

Mixed methods systematic review with best evidence synthesis.

Data sources

CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, Science Direct and PubMed.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies

Randomised controlled trials (RCT), non-RCTs that included a comparison group, before and after study designs and qualitative methods. Studies were required to outline specific unimodal or multimodal psychological interventions used in relation to injury prevention in the real-world setting.

Outcome measure

Studies were independently appraised with the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool.

Results

Thirteen papers (incorporating 14 studies) met the eligibility criteria, of which 93% (13/14) reported a decrease in injury rates (effect size range=0.2–1.21). There was an overall moderate risk of bias in reporting (52%). There is a dominance of stress management-based interventions in literature due to the prominence of the model of stress and athletic injury within the area.

Summary/conclusions

Psychological interventions demonstrate small (0.2) to large (1.21) effects on sports injury rates. The research area demonstrates a cumulative moderate risk in reporting bias (52%).

PROSPERO registration number

CRD42016035879.

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