Short-Term Absenteeism and Health Care Utilization Due to Lower Extremity Injuries Among Novice Runners: A Prospective Cohort Study

Dirk-Wouter Smits*, Bionka Huisstede, Evert Verhagen, Henk van der Worp, Bas Kluitenberg, Marienke van Middelkoop, Fred Hartgens, Frank Backx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To describe absenteeism and health care utilization (HCU) within 6 weeks after occurrence of running-related injuries (RRIs) among novice runners and to explore differences relating to injury and personal characteristics. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Primary care. Participants: One thousand six hundred ninety-six novice runners (18-65 years) participating in a 6-week running program ("Start-to-Run"). Main Outcome Measures: Injury characteristics were assessed by weekly training logs and personal characteristics by a baseline questionnaire. Data on absenteeism and HCU were collected using questionnaires at 2 and 6 weeks after the RRI occurred. Results: A total of 185 novice runners (11%) reported an RRI during the 6-week program. Of these injured novice runners, 78% reported absence from sports, whereas only 4% reported absence from work. Fifty-one percent of the injured novice runners visited a health care professional, mostly physical therapists (PTs) rather than physicians. Absenteeism was more common among women than men and was also more common with acute RRIs than gradual-onset RRIs. As regards HCU, both the variety of professionals visited and the number of PT visits were higher among runners with muscle-tendon injuries in the ankle/foot region than among those with other RRIs. Conclusions: Among novice runners sustaining an RRI during a 6-week running program, over three quarters reported short-term absence from sports, whereas absence from work was very limited, and over half used professional health care. Both absence and HCU are associated with injury characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-509
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • running
  • injuries
  • lower extremities
  • absenteeism
  • health care

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