PhD Thesis

Create, Curate, Cooperate: Exploring the Process of Sport Safety Resource Development

Federation University Australia

Supervisors: Professors P Paliadelis & CF Finch


Sports injuries are a significant public health burden both in Australia, and worldwide. Preventing injuries in sports settings is thus an important public health goal.

It is now generally accepted that sports injuries are, like other unintentional injuries, largely preventable. Yet intractable problems remain. Complexity theory is harnessed in this research as a means of understanding such problems.

To provide new insights into the complexity of sports safety promotion, this research consisted of a qualitative case study design underpinned by constructivist assumptions.

Study A documented sports injury prevention and safety promotion resources available from the websites of key sporting organisations. A thematic document analysis approach was used to identify and describe how many, and what types of, resources were available, as well as the sports injury prevention and safety promotion issues addressed. The findings of Study A suggest that sport settings have access to a proliferation of rival resources, which reflects a potentially inefficient and ineffective manner in which to influence policy/practice.

Study B determined the process that key intermediary organisations used to develop and disseminate the resources identified in Study A. Interviews with key participants about organisational processes of knowledge translation were undertaken, and a qualitative description approach was used to examine their accounts. The findings of Study B suggest that intermediary organisations can, and do, take on knowledge translation roles in order to make research knowledge more relevant (timely, salient, actionable), accessible (formatted and available), and legitimate (credible) for end-users.

A complexity approach was applied to this study to assist in recognising that open systems (stratification and fluidity), non-linearity (emergent properties and feedback loops), and improbability (demi-regularities and the ability to evolve, learn, and adapt) underscore sports safety.

This study explicates and examines key insights and implications of adopting a complexity approach to the prevention of injury in sport settings.