Questions under study/principles: Analysis of changes in the behaviour of wearing protective equipment by alpine skiers and snowboarders after injury, performed at a level I trauma centre in Switzerland.
Methods: We present a study, using a standardised questionnaire, assessing behaviour on ski slopes by adult patients admitted between Oct 2007 and April 2008. Patients were re-interviewed after the 2008/2009 season. McNemar tests were used to analyse differences in protective clothing wearing rates between the two seasons. Multiple logistic regression with age, gender and injury severity score (ISS) as predictors, was used to compare findings in those who started wearing protective equipment and those who did not.
Results: A total of 104/132 patients from the 2007/2008 season were questioned about wearing protective equipment in 2008/2009. 20 patients could not be reassessed (7 declined, 13 had abandoned winter sports). A total of 84 patients were reassessed (61 alpine skiers and 23 snowboarders). The median age of participants was 39 years and 70.2% were male. Helmet and back protector wearing rates increased from 40.5% to 78.6% (p <0.001) and from 14.3% to 23.8% (p = 0.021), respectively. Snowboarders more than doubled their helmet wearing rate (39.1% to 82.6%, p = 0.002). Skiers showed a trend towards doubling their back protector wearing rate (6.6% to 14.8%, p = 0.063). Younger skiers started wearing back protectors more often than older skiers.
Conclusions: Sustained injury might provide skiers and snowboards with a potent trigger to change their attitude towards the use of protective equipment. The psychological processes influencing the use of protective equipment require further investigation.