Date of Award

December 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health Services

Committee Member

Joel Williams

Committee Member

Sarah Griffin

Committee Member

Lu Zhang

Committee Member

Mitch Rauh

Committee Member

Chris Clemow


This dissertation aims to explore the problem of injuries in high school and collegiate cross-country and track and field by systematically reviewing and analyzing data from previous epidemiologic studies, comparing injury rates from a large dataset of collegiate track and field injuries, examining the psychology of injury reporting among adolescent runners, and identifying directions for future research in the field of sports injury epidemiology. Cross-country and track and field are popular modes of physical activity for many adolescents, but as with many sports, they have inherent injury risks that may lead participants to quit or increase their risk of conditions such as post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

In order to understand the injury problem in these sports and measure the effectiveness of injury prevention strategies, it is important to have accurate measurements of injury risk. Differing methodologies used in previous research have resulted in large variances in observed injury risk among cross-country and track and field athletes. This dissertation includes a systematic review and met-analysis, which pools injury-related data from previous original research to provide overall estimates of injury risk, while highlighting inconsistencies and current gaps in epidemiological research within these populations.

One current gap identified was the lack of epidemiological studies comparing injury patterns between diverse track and field disciplines such as sprinting, distance running, throwing, and jumping. The second study in this dissertation analyzed a large dataset of collegiate track and field injuries to estimate injury risk, while also examining the patterns and burden of injury across track and field disciplines.

Another gap in sports injury research concerns the study of injury reporting behaviors. Previous epidemiological studies have cited injury underreporting as potentially skewing estimates of injury risk. Many of the injuries experienced by adolescent runners have a gradual onset and delays in their recognition and treatment can be detrimental to an athlete’s health. The third study in this dissertation surveyed a large sample of adolescent runners to examine important factors regarding their decision to report overuse injury symptoms.



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