Chin TJ, Lee ACL, Fulcher ML. Professional footballers have a limited understanding of the pre-competition medical assessment and the possible outcomes, including disqualification: a cross-sectional survey. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2021;7:e001006. doi:10.1136/ bmjsem-2020-001006.
Tell us more about yourself and the author team
I am a 4th-year registrar with the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians. I am currently in the midst of fellowship exams whilst training in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. Mark Fulcher, my research supervisor, is also our college president and a sport and exercise physician based in Auckland. I met Arier, our biostatistician, through the University of Auckland, where I completed my undergraduate degree, and Mark has worked with her on several projects previously.
What is the story behind your study?
Both Mark and I sat down to discuss potential research projects, and through a shared interest in football, this study gained traction and grew to what it is now. Athlete sudden cardiac arrest on the field of play always draw media attention. We are all aware of Fabrice Muamba’s case, but I had not heard of Radwan Hamed’s unfortunate outcome. Being involved in PCMAs for footballers, I wanted to learn more about avoiding such situations.
In your own words, what did you find?
Professional footballers do not quite grasp the purpose of a PCMA. Whilst it does have its uses in identifying musculoskeletal issues, footballers are not aware that the main purpose is to identify life-threatening conditions. Many aren’t aware that this process is not foolproof and many are also not aware that the PCMA may result in potential disqualification from further play.
What was the main challenge you faced in your study?
As with any survey, it was generating sufficient response numbers.
If there is one take-home message from your study, what would that be?
Doctors have the tendency to over-estimate patient comprehension of complex medical information. We have a role in educating players and improving their health literacy to make informed decisions.