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Accuracy of recall of musculoskeletal injuries in elite military personnel: a cross-sectional study
  1. Mita Lovalekar1,
  2. John P Abt2,
  3. Timothy C Sell3,
  4. Scott M Lephart4,
  5. Erin Pletcher1,
  6. Kim Beals1
  1. 1 Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2 Division of Athletic Training, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  3. 3 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
  4. 4 College of Health Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mita Lovalekar; mital{at}


Background Self-reported data are often used in research studies among military populations.

Objective The accuracy of self-reported musculoskeletal injury data among elite military personnel was assessed for issues with recall.

Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting Applied research laboratory at a military installation.

Participants A total of 101 subjects participated (age 28.5±5.6 years). Study participants were active duty military personnel, with no conditions that precluded them from full duty.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Self-reported and medical record reviewed injuries that occurred during a 1-year period were matched by anatomic location, injury side (for extremity injuries), and injury year and type. The accuracy of recall was estimated as the per cent of medical record reviewed injuries correctly recalled in the self-report. The effect of injury anatomic location, injury type and severity and time since injury, on recall, was also assessed. Injuries were classified as recent (≤4 years since injury) or old injuries (>4 years since injury). Recall proportions were compared using Fisher’s exact tests.

Results A total of 374 injuries were extracted from the subjects’ medical records. Recall was generally low (12.0%) and was not different between recent and old injuries (P=0.206). Injury location did not affect recall (P=0.418). Recall was higher for traumatic fractures as compared with less severe non-fracture injuries (P values 0.001 to <0.001). Recall for non-fracture injuries was higher for recent as compared with old injuries (P=0.033). This effect of time since injury on recall was not observed for fractures (P=0.522).

Conclusions The results of this study highlight the importance of weighing the advantages and disadvantages of self-reported injury data before their use in research studies in military populations and the need for future research to identify modifiable factors that influence recall.

  • military personnel
  • musculoskeletal system/injuries
  • mental recall
  • sports medicine

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  • Contributors ML contributed to study design, data collection and analysis, and manuscript preparation. JPA, TCS, SML and KB contributed to manuscript preparation. EP contributed to data analysis and manuscript preparation.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Office of Naval Research #N00014-11-1-0929.

  • Disclaimer Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research or Naval Special Warfare Command.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval University of Pittsburgh, Office of Naval Research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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