Prospective Study

Prospective study - a longitudinal study that follows a group of individuals over time (into the future) to determine how a set of predetermined factors effects, or is correlated with, certain outcome measures.
  • These studies are important for determining the cause of various orthopedic pathologies, because in most cases potentially harmful variables cannot be experimentally introduced to determine if they will result in injury.
  • Unfortunately, these studies are notoriously expensive, are vulnerable to participant attrition, and may not easily detect rare diseases or injuries.
Example, the study by Zazulak et al. (1) is a prospective study that demonstrated that slower reactivity of trunk muscles was correlated with an increased rate of knee injury over the course of a season.
  1. Zazulak, B. T., Hewett, T. E., Reeves, N. P., Goldberg, B., and Cholewicki, J. (2007). Deficits in neuromuscular control of the trunk predict knee injury risk. The American journal of sports medicine, 35(7), 1123-1130

Related Terms

  • Retrospective study
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Observational study


  • Cohort study
  • Follow-up study
  • Longitudinal study
  • Prospective study