Musculoskeletal injury epidemiology in law enforcement and firefighter recruits during physical training: a systematic review

Myles C. Murphy, Holly-Anne George, Muhammad Naqi, Patrick J. Owen, Paola Chivers, Nicolas Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: Report the injury epidemiology of law enforcement and firefighter recruits.

Design: A systematic epidemiological review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses 2020 guidelines was completed.

Data sources: Five online databases were searched from database inception to 5 May 2021.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies: Prospective and retrospective studies that reported data on musculoskeletal injuries sustained by law enforcement or firefighter recruits were included. We reported on all components of injury where data were available. All injury incidence rates were calculated as per 1000 training days (Poisson 95% CI) to allow comparisons between studies. Study quality was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute Quality Assessment Checklist for Prevalence Studies.

Results: No studies reporting firefighter recruits were identified. Eight published studies that reported on injuries to law enforcement recruits were identified. The studies were all low quality, and the credibility of the evidence was assessed as very low. Seven studies reported medical attention injuries, and one study reported the number of medical withdrawals from a recruit training programme. The prevalence of law enforcement recruits with medical attention injuries ranged from 13.7% to 24.5%. The overall medical attention injury incidence rate for law enforcement recruits ranged from 1.67 injuries per 1000 training days (Poisson 95% CI 1.00 to 2.34 injuries per 1000 training days) to 4.24 injuries per 1000 training days (Poisson 95% CI 2.97 to 5.51 injuries per 1000 training days).

Conclusion: This review reported the prevalence and incidence rates for musculoskeletal injuries in law enforcement officers. However, the credibility of the evidence is very low.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001289
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Firefighter recruits
  • Law enforcement recruits
  • Systematic epidemiological review


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