A cost-benefit analysis of preparticipation sports examinations of adolescent athletes

W L Risser, H M Hoffman, G G Bellah, L W Green
Journal of School Health 1985, 55 (7): 270-3
A cost-benefit analysis of preparticipation sports exams of 763 adolescents was based on data from parallel programs conducted on affluent white and indigent black populations. After initial exams, 16 athletes (2.1%) were referred for further evaluation before participation was allowed; 15 of 16 reported their problems on the history form. Two were disqualified and one was treated. The cost of identifying the three athletes with significant problems was $4,537 per athlete. An additional 163 athletes (21.6%) had significant medical problems unrelated to safe sports participation and 89% of students sought routine health care only to obtain permission to play sports. Preparticipation sports exams have an unfavorable cost-benefit ratio even if costs are carefully controlled. The ratio might be improved if significant health problems not relevant to safe sports participation are sought or if exams are limited to athletes with positive responses on a preliminary history form.

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