Adolescents' experience with sports-related pain and injury: A systematic review of qualitative research

Niamh Sheehan, Ryan Summersby, C M Bleakley, Brian Caulfield, Mark Matthews, Natalie Klempel, Sinead Holden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objective: The aim of this review is to synthesise qualitative studies examining adolescents’ experience with pain
and injury arising from sports participation.
Methods: This review was registered on Open Science Framework prior to data extraction. A systematic search of
PubMed, Embase, and SPORTDiscus was conducted. Studies were appraised using the CASP (critical appraisal
skills programme) checklist. Data was synthesised using a meta aggregation.
Study selection criteria: Inclusion criteria included studies related to adolescents aged 14–19yrs with sports related
pain/injury, employed a qualitative design, full text publications in English.
Results: Sixteen studies of 216 participants were included. Studies investigated severe knee injuries, concussion,
or other musculoskeletal injuries. Synthesised findings show that, regardless of injury type, adolescents experience a mix of positive (motivation to rehab and return to sport, optimism) and negative emotions (fear of reinjury, isolation, depressive responses) throughout recovery. Common coping strategies were to ignore symptoms, modify activity levels, or seek support.
Conclusion: Sports-related pain and injury has a multifaceted effect on the adolescent athlete. There is a pervasive
fear of re-injury and social isolation, but the desire to return to sports is facilitated through motivation and
support. Peer motivation effects the willingness of the adolescent to persist with rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-21
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical Therapy in Sport
Early online date3 Jun 2024
Publication statusPublished online - 3 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Ethical approval was not required for this review. As this was a review no human subjects were recruited for this study.

Data Access Statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or are
available as supplementary files.


  • Adolescent Experiences
  • Qualitative Synthesis
  • Meta Agression
  • Concussion Experience
  • Sports Injury
  • Concussion experience
  • Adolescent experiences
  • Qualitative synthesis
  • Meta aggregation
  • Sports injury


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