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Illness Monitoring in Team Sports Using a Web-Based Training Diary

Cunniffe, Brian MSc; Griffiths, Hywel BSc; Proctor, Wayne BSc; Jones, Ken P PhD; Baker, Julien S PhD; Davies, Bruce PhD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2009 - Volume 19 - Issue 6 - p 476-481
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181c125d3
Original Research

Objective: Use of Web-based data recording systems has received little attention in sport. An “online” training diary could provide a valuable alternative to pen-paper methods in the regular assessment of physical activity and illness occurrence in athletes. The objective of this study was to design and implement a user-friendly and efficient system to monitor incidences of illness in team sport athletes.

Design: Prospective monitoring study over a 48-week rugby season. Players were asked to register presence/absence of weekly illness symptoms with medical staff and also use an online training diary. Submitted self-reported diary illness data were compared with illness complaint data recorded by medical staff. Diary response rates were calculated from the number of completed diary entries against the number of available/required entries over the season.

Setting: Web-based training diary.

Participants: Thirty professional rugby union players.

Intervention: Comparison of gastrointestinal and upper respiratory illnesses (URIs) reported by players using an online diary and to medical staff.

Main Outcome Measures: Incidences of URIs.

Results: The diary response rate in the reporting of weekly illnesses was 79% over the study period. Discrepancy existed between the number of self-reported URIs by players using the diary (118 URI incidences) compared with those reported to medical staff (23 URI incidences). Totaling all URI episodes (those self-reported + those registered by medical staff) revealed that players reported just 19% of URI episodes to medical staff.

Conclusions: Players tend to underreport incidences of banal infections. Closer monitoring of self-reported illnesses using a similar system in the present study may provide a better alternative to previous methods in nonclinical illness assessment.

From the *Department of Health, Exercise, Sport and Science, University of Glamorgan, Trefforest, Wales, United Kingdom; †Wales Rugby Union, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, United Kingdom; and ‡Cardiff School of Health Sciences, University of Wales Institute Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.

Submitted for publication January 3, 2009; accepted September 14, 2009.

Disclosure of funding: none received.

The authors state that they have no financial interest in the products mentioned within this article.

Reprints: Brian Cunniffe, MSc, English Institute of Sport, Coleridge Rd, Sheffield S95DA, United Kingdom (e-mail:

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.