Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2020) 19, 323 - 336

Research article
Prevalence of Biopsychosocial Factors of Pain in 865 Sports Students of the Dach (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) Region – A Cross-Sectional Survey
Anke Bumann1,2, Winfried Banzer1,3, Johannes Fleckenstein1, 
Author Information
1 Department of Sports Medicine and Exercise Physiology, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2 Department of Exercise Physiology and Sports Therapy, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Giessen, Germany
3 Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany

Johannes Fleckenstein
✉ Department of Sports Medicine, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Ginnheimer Landstr. 39, 60487 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Publish Date
Received: 09-08-2019
Accepted: 01-02-2020
Published (online): 01-05-2020
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When sports are part of a person’s profession or education, their careers are often handicapped by pain, a complex physical and mental state that may already occur at lower career stages. This study was designed to assess the occurrence of pain among sports students and the prevalence of relevant contributing psychosocial co-factors. Exploratory cross-sectional study surveying students at 89 sports faculties of universities in the DACH region using the German Sports Pain Questionnaire. It includes several validated surveys related to pain occurrence in different body regions, injuries, pain diagnoses and pain intensity, depression, anxiety, stress, self-compassion, analgesic and alcohol consumption, as well as sleep quality, health-related quality of life and impairments of quality of life by pain. A total of 865 sports students gave consent to participate in the study, and 664 participants (78%; 23.3 ± 2.84 years, 60% female, 40% male) completed the full survey. More than half of the students (53%; n = 403) showed current pain in 2-5 regions of the body, while subjective pain tolerance was enhanced. General injuries or accidents, medically and self-diagnosed pain diagnoses during the last eight weeks were reported by 30%. A current pain intensity ≥ 3 NRS was prevalent in 28% (n = 205), which correlated with increased pain-related biopsychosocial scores. Sports students had increased scores for depression, anxiety and stress, and self-compassion was reduced (compared to age-controlled national reference data, sports students head increased scores). The mean weekly training workload was 5-7 hours. Analgesics and alcohol consumption was increased, 61% reported insomnia. Across sports students, pain and biopsychosocial burden seem significantly increased when compared to other students and age-controlled cohorts. The data implies the need of giving greater importance to pain management at least from the time of sports studies in order to prevent pain and health risks in sports.

Key words: Pain management, elite athlete, pain questionnaire, quality of life, preventive medicine

           Key Points
  • The German Pain Questionnaire, based on validated international questionnaires, has been adapted to the needs and wants of sports students.
  • Young athletes, i.e. sports students, represent an adequate cohort to investigate bio-psycho-social factors of pain at an early stage of their career.
  • The study draws an alarming picture of sports students’ health state.
  • The study highlights key points that may be suitable to develop preventive and rehabilitative instruments.
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