Health-related quality of life in athletes: A systematic review with meta-analysis

Megan N. Houston, Matthew C. Hoch, Johanna M. Hoch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Context: Assessment of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) after injury is important. Differences in HRQOL between nonathletes and athletes and between injured and uninjured athletes have been demonstrated; however, the evidence has not been synthesized. Objective: To answer the following questions: (1) Does HRQOL differ among adolescent and collegiate athletes and nonathletes? (2) Does HRQOL differ between injured adolescent and collegiate athletes or between athletes with a history of injury and uninjured athletes or those without a history of injury? Data Sources: We systematically searched CINAHL, MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus, and PubMed. A hand search of references was also conducted. Study Selection: Studies were included if they used generic instruments to compare HRQOL outcomes between athletes and nonathletes and between uninjured and injured athletes. Studies were excluded if they did not use a generic instrument, pertained to instrument development, or included retired athletes or athletes with a chronic disease. Data Extraction: We assessed study quality using the modified Downs and Black Index Tool. Bias-corrected Hedges g effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. The Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy (SORT) was used to determine the overall strength of the recommendation. A random-effects meta-analysis was performed for all studies using the composite or total score. Data Synthesis: Eight studies with modified Downs and Black scores ranging from 70.6% to 88.4% were included. For question 1, the overall random-effects meta-analysis was weak (effect size = 0.27, 95% confidence interval = 0.14, 0.40; P < .001). For question 2, the overall random-effects meta-analysis was moderate (effect size = 0.68, 95% confidence interval = 0.42, 0.95; P < .001). Conclusions: Grade A evidence indicates that athletes reported better HRQOL than nonathletes and that uninjured athletes reported better HRQOL than injured athletes. However, the overall effect for question 1 was weak, suggesting that the differences between athletes and nonathletes may not be clinically meaningful. Clinicians should monitor HRQOL after injury to ensure that all dimensions of health are appropriately treated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-453
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Athletic Training
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by the National Athletic Trainers' Association, Inc.


  • Athletic injuries
  • Patient outcomes
  • Patient-centered care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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