• Mark Atkinson

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMPhil


A major barrier to evidence-based safety and performance decision-making in sport is the availability of longitudinal, high-quality data. This is particularly relevant to remote-athlete talent pathways in sports such as Rugby Union, where both the operation of these pathways and a comparatively high injury-risk has attracted considerable public scrutiny. Consequently, this research was undertaken to investigate reducing barriers to remote-athlete monitoring and injury surveillance practices within English academy rugby union.
The first study of this thesis documents the systematic processes that led to identifying an innovations solution (smartphone application-based athlete monitoring and injury surveillance system), and the development of an intervention (EPD App) and implementation strategy (TDP Project). The second study evaluates implementation impact of these developments using metrics of participant-use (RE-AIM Framework) and perceived-quality (uMARS questionnaire) across nine academies, 999 athletes, over 21-months. Findings showed the EPD App and TDP Project positively impacted the initial Reach (96%) and Adoption (78%) usage, however this did not translate to Implementation (29%) and Maintenance (12%) usage. Above average perceived-quality metrics from the uMARS questionnaire relating to ‘Functionality’ and ‘Ease of Use’, together with a multi-level, context-driven implementation strategy is suggested as contributing to the positive Reach and Adoption usage. Low ratings for ‘Entertainment’, together with socio-environmental factors are suggested as contributing to the poor Implementation and Maintenance. Athletes perceived to have improved their ‘Awareness’ and ‘Knowledge’ relating to managing workloads, wellbeing and injury-risk after using the EPD App, pointing to self-regulation benefits of engaging in self-reporting practices.
This thesis steps out the processes in order to develop, evaluate and innovate athlete monitoring and injury surveillance systems. Novel implementation science tools are applied to detail changes in participant-use and perceived-quality that progress research knowledge. The study demonstrates how barriers to remote-athlete data capture can be reduced by applying context-driven, multi-level development processes and blended scientific designs. Further enhancements and future studies can consider focusing on 1) addressing socio-environmental contexts, 2) facilitating engagement factors, and 3) exploring the self-regulation benefits of self-report monitoring and surveillance systems.
Date of Award22 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsRugby Football Union
SupervisorKeith Stokes (Supervisor) & Sean Williams (Supervisor)

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