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Forming norms: informing diagnosis and management in sports medicine

Baldwin, J N; McKay, M J; Hiller, C E; Nightingale, E J; Moloney, N; Vanicek, N; Ferreira, P; Simic, M; Refshauge, K; Burns, J


J N Baldwin

M J McKay

C E Hiller

E J Nightingale

N Moloney

P Ferreira

M Simic

K Refshauge

J Burns


Clinicians aim to identify abnormalities, and distinguish harmful from harmless abnormalities. In sports medicine, measures of physical function such as strength, balance and joint flexibility are used as diagnostic tools to identify causes of pain and disability and monitor progression in response to an intervention. Comparing results from clinical measures against ‘normal’ values guides decision-making regarding health outcomes. Understanding ‘normal’ is therefore central to appropriate management of disease and disability. However, ‘normal’ is difficult to clarify and definitions are dependent on context. ‘Normal’ in the clinical setting is best understood as an appropriate state of physical function. Particularly as disease, pain and sickness are expected occurrences of being human, understanding ‘normal’ at each stage of the lifespan is essential to avoid the medicalisation of usual life processes. Clinicians use physical measures to assess physical function and identify disability. Accurate diagnosis hinges on access to ‘normal’ reference values for such measures. However our knowledge of ‘normal’ for many clinical measures in sports medicine is limited. Improved knowledge of normal physical function across the lifespan will assist greatly in the diagnosis and management of pain, disease and disability.


Baldwin, J. N., McKay, M. J., Hiller, C. E., Nightingale, E. J., Moloney, N., Vanicek, N., …Burns, J. (2015). Forming norms: informing diagnosis and management in sports medicine. British journal of sports medicine, 49(19), 1226-1227.

Journal Article Type Editorial
Acceptance Date Mar 26, 2015
Online Publication Date Apr 14, 2015
Publication Date 2015-10
Deposit Date Jul 9, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 9, 2015
Journal British journal of sports medicine
Print ISSN 0306-3674
Electronic ISSN 1473-0480
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Issue 19
Pages 1226-1227
Keywords Diagnosis in sports medicine
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article has been accepted for publication in British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM). The definitive copyedited, typeset version Baldwin JN, McKay MJ, Hiller CE, et al. Br J Sports Med 2015;49:1226–1227 is available online at :


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