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Medical supervision of sport diving in Scotland: reassessing the need for routine medical examinations

British Journal of Sports Medicine
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1136/bjsm.34.5.375
  • Eletters:
  • Medicine


Background—The value of diving medicals in preventing incidents is uncertain and there has been only limited evaluation of the fitness to dive guidelines in a sport diving population. Objective—To examine the need for routine diving medical examinations in the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club (SSAC) between 1991 and 1998. Methods—A medical examination of all SSAC divers is performed at entry and then every one to five years based on their age and medical condition This information was analysed in terms of questionnaire findings and examination abnormalities. Results—There were 2962 medical forms available for analysis. Examination abnormalities were found in 174 subjects (5.9% of the population), with obesity affecting 75 subjects (2.5%). There was a linear increase in mean body mass index (r2 = 0.92), and a significant difference between 1991 and 1998 (mean (SD) of 24.1 (3.07) and 25.02 (3.4) respectively, p = 0.002) which was not related to age or sex distribution. There was also a significant increase in the prevalence of smokers (χ2 = 4.02, p = 0.045). The most common specialist referral was for evaluation of asthma, with hypertension and obesity as the next most common reasons. Most subjects were allowed to dive, with only 43 (25%) being failed outright. Overall, no examination abnormality alone caused a subject to be classified unfit to dive, and referrals were prompted by the answers in the questionnaire. Conclusions—No significant unexpected abnormalities were found on clinical examination in this population of sport divers. Conditions that prevented subjects from diving were detected by the questionnaire, and this prompted referral for further assessment by the medical advisors. Routine medical examinations were of little value. Key Words: fitness to dive; diving; SCUBA; medicals

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