Scientific findings emerge constantly, and a field of study can change rapidly. As such, it is important to ACSM that our official statements are as current and accurate as possible. Historically, the Position Stand (PS) has been ACSM’s most authoritative “official” statement. Our PS span a variety of research and clinical topics and provide a scientific summary and guidance to our members and the general public.
Unfortunately, many of our PS are now quite old and in need of updating. We are often asked, “When will the position stand be updated?” This has been a complex issue for ACSM to tackle. ACSM’s desire to maintain its leadership in providing highly influential scientific statements for the fields of exercise science and sport medicine has prompted us to thoughtfully consider how we develop a PS. Ensuring that we are using gold-standard methodology and evidence-based procedures has been a priority. As a result, we have new protocols for the development of PS that standardize the process and improve transparency, accuracy, and consistency in the reporting of methodology and results.
In addition, the ACSM Pronouncements Committee (Michael Deschenes, PhD, FACSM, Chair) recognized the limitation of relying so heavily on the use of the PS as our primary means to communicate these scientific summaries. Thus, the committee developed four additional “official statements” of the college: Umbrella Review, Expert Consensus, Contemporary Issues and Call to Action. Consequently, the college now has several mechanisms, in addition to the PS, to release an official stance. Other prominent organizations use a similar approach, publishing a variety of types of statements that have different development protocols and different purposes. This structure will give ACSM greater flexibility to comment, take a stance, and update existing documents in a well-timed manner. We are happy to report that the answer to the question, “When will the position stand be updated?” is soon.
In fact, thanks to the work of the Pronouncements Committee, in the very near future you will start to see many of these older PS updated with current and emerging scientific and clinical content. During 2018, the Pronouncements Committee used a multi-step process to conduct a thorough review of the existing PS.
First, Web of Science was used to gather metrics on each PS to determine how often it is being cited and/or downloaded. Additional citation information and altmetric scores were obtained from the publisher. Next, the committee invited content experts to review the papers to provide their thoughts and recommendations as to whether the paper’s content was current or outdated, whether the paper should be updated and, if updated, what format the update should take. In addition, they were asked to comment on the perceived urgency of a needed update. When possible, members of the original PS writing group participated in the review process. Finally, the committee members discussed the reviewers’ comments and recommendations and considered a variety of additional factors (e.g., age of the paper, interest of the topic to our members, whether the topic remains “core” to ACSM’s mission, the existence of current statements on the topic by other organizations).
With this review completed, work to update these papers will begin shortly. Several of the older PS will be updated with a new PS. However, several other PS were identified as needing a quicker update than can be achieved via a new PS. Thus, several of those papers will be updated with Expert Consensus Statements. Similarly, other PS will be updated with Umbrella Reviews or Call to Action statements.
You may notice that the titles and focus of these updates vary slightly from the original PS. Nonetheless, the goal is to provide a timely update with current information that extends the conclusions of the original PS. The Pronouncements Committee has prioritized the order of these updates and work will begin in the first quarter of 2019.
Finally, of note, the recent update of the acsm.org website provides greater flexibility to retain our older papers (e.g., archive), while also directing viewers to updates and current content. You can find that content here. Stay tuned as the college works to update these seminal and highly influential papers.
Lynette L. Craft, Ph.D., FACSM completed her Ph.D. in Kinesiology at Michigan State University and post-doctoral training in Health Psychology at Boston University School of Medicine. She currently serves as the ACSM Chief Science Officer.