Occupational specifics of elite female handball players in relation to injury recovery, social support and environmental factors
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University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia (Faculty of Sport)
Online publication date: 2020-11-13
Corresponding author
Mojca Doupona   

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Sport, Gortanova 22, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2021;34(1):101-10
Objectives: The aim of the study was to analyze the injury characteristics, satisfaction with social support and environmental factors in elite female handball players in the injury recovery process. Material and Methods: The retrospective study combined quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (interview) methods, and presented 3 distinct perspectives, i.e., those of active players, former players and coaching staff members (SMs). The research sample in the first part consisted of 51 active professional female handball players (aged 26.3±2.6 years) with an injury history. The answers from an online questionnaire were processed according to basic statistical parameters (SPSS). The second part of the study included 9 semi-structured interviews, 6 with former players and 3 with coaching SMs. Results: All the 51 active players reported 140 injuries (on average 2.7 injuries/player) in the last 6 years. The recovery time ranged 1 day–10 months. No statistically significant differences were observed between the career length and anterior cruciate ligament tear (χ2–3.18, p = 0.53), and the career length and posterior cruciate ligament tear (χ2–1.87; p = 0.76). The former players’ perceptions of social support and environmental factors are similar to the opinions expressed by the coaching SMs, while the active players held high expectations. The highest level of satisfaction with social support was reported for family members (M±SD 4.35±0.814) and the physiotherapist (M±SD 4.12±3.28), whereas the players were not very satisfied with the social support offered by the head coach (M±SD 2.73±0.75). Coaching SMs considered providing social support as something that exceeded their competences. Conclusions: The analysis of the injury recovery process indicated a need for a new function in handball clubs – an expert with interdisciplinary competencies, who would contribute to faster recovery and general wellbeing of professional handball players. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2021;34(1):101–10
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