National sports injury data strategy consultation begins, as new data reveals potential health savings from improving injury prevention and management

Better data on sports injuries could lead to improvements in injury prevention and management and help Australians stay active, according to a new consultation paper from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The National sports injury data strategy is a draft consultation that outlines how a National Sports Injury Data Asset (NSIDA) could be developed and operate.

Also today, the AIHW is releasing the first stage of work, Economics of sports injury and participation – Preliminary results, aimed at better understanding the potential savings to be gained through improving injury prevention and management and increasing physical activity across the Australian population.

This report suggests that around three quarters of a billion dollars is spent each year on managing relatively severe injuries that were associated with inadequate injury prevention and management during physical activity ($764 million in 2018-19).

This report also suggests that conditions associated with physical inactivity cost the health system close to one billion dollars each year ($968 million in 2018-19).

Demonstrating the savings that can be achieved, however, it is estimated that health spending could be as much as half a billion dollars higher if the Australian people were less physically active (at least $484 million in 2018-19).

‘Australia is a sporting nation and participation in sport improves our health and wellbeing, however, these benefits are often lessened as a result of injuries that could either have been prevented or better managed,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Adrian Webster.

In partnership with Sport Australia and the AIS, the AIHW is investigating the existing and potential data sources that could be used to improve sports injury prevention and management. The aim is to investigate how a NSIDA could:

  • provide insight into the types and causes of sports injury in the community
  • help sports bodies and their participants to understand where injury prevention programs are needed
  • provide ongoing surveillance to monitor trends and evaluate injury prevention programs.

As part of this project, the AIHW is talking with sports organisations, health-care providers, insurers and government agencies to understand what sports injury data is currently being collected.

Additionally, a new online sports injury data collection tool is being piloted to fill a gap in community sports injury reporting. This tool can be used by players, parents, coaches and trainers to record injuries.

‘It is hoped that piloting this tool will help us learn how best to collect data on community sports injuries,’ Dr. Webster said.

A pilot project will be rolled out by mid-2022 for use on smartphones, tablets and computers.

The AIHW will release, Hospitalised sports injury in Australia, 2019–20, in March 2022.

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