Risk factors for musculoskeletal injuries in the military: a qualitative systematic review of the literature from the past two decades and a new prioritizing injury model

Stefan Sammito (Coresponding Author), Vedran Hadzic, Thomas Karakolis, Karen R. Kelly, Susan P. Proctor, Ainars Stepens, Graham White, Wes O. Zimmermann

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Abstract

Background: Musculoskeletal injuries (MSkIs) are a leading cause of health care utilization, as well as limited duty and disability in the US military and other armed forces. MSkIs affect members of the military during initial training, operational training, and deployment and have a direct negative impact on overall troop readiness. Currently, a systematic overview of all risk factors for MSkIs in the military is not available. Methods: A systematic literature search was carried out using the PubMed, Ovid/Medline, and Web of Science databases from January 1, 2000 to September 10, 2019. Additionally, a reference list scan was performed (using the “snowball method”). Thereafter, an international, multidisciplinary expert panel scored the level of evidence per risk factor, and a classification of modifiable/non-modifiable was made. Results: In total, 176 original papers and 3 meta-analyses were included in the review. A list of 57 reported potential risk factors was formed. For 21 risk factors, the level of evidence was considered moderate or strong. Based on this literature review and an in-depth analysis, the expert panel developed a model to display the most relevant risk factors identified, introducing the idea of the “order of importance” and including concepts that are modifiable/non-modifiable, as well as extrinsic/intrinsic risk factors. Conclusions: This is the qualitative systematic review of studies on risk factors for MSkIs in the military that has attempted to be all-inclusive. A total of 57 different potential risk factors were identified, and a new, prioritizing injury model was developed. This model may help us to understand risk factors that can be addressed, and in which order they should be prioritized when planning intervention strategies within military groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
JournalMilitary Medical Research
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords*

  • Injury
  • Intervention
  • Military
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Prevention
  • Risk factors

Field of Science*

  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database

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