September 4, 2008 - Special Olympics International relies on predictive analytics software from SPSS Inc. to analyze data collected on athlete health worldwide to build a case for improved government policies, increased funding and new partnerships.


Special Olympics is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and competition. With over 2.8 million athletes in more than 180 countries around the world, the impact of Special Olympics is global.


The breadth of Special Olympics puts the organization in a unique position to influence policies and create opportunities in all corners of the world, and the need for reliable data and information to present to governments and leaders around the world is critical. 


To improve Special Olympics athletes’ access to health care, the organization created an initiative called “Healthy Athletes,” which provides free vision, dental, hearing, podiatric, physical fitness, bone density, body mass index (BMI) and nutrition screenings at Special Olympics events.


The organization chose SPSS Predictive Analytics software for its ease of use and efficiency to collect and analyze screening data at Healthy Athletes events and then to create value from the information for policy and fund-raising efforts.


For example, when analyzing data from its past three World Games, Special Olympics found that 44 percent of athletes had obvious untreated tooth decay. At the same World Games, Special Olympics assessed visual acuity in the athlete population and found that 26 percent of athletes needed new glasses. Data such as these are compelling to corporate and foundation partners, whose subsequent support has allowed Special Olympics to provide more than 50,000 pair of prescription glasses to athletes.


Darcie Mersereau, senior manager of research and evaluation at Special Olympics International, said, “SPSS Predictive Analytics software supports our mission to act as advocates for our athletes by allowing Special Olympics to make a solid case for improved quality and access to healthcare for populations worldwide. We are able to demonstrate that these findings are not unique to individuals, but rather shared by athletes all over the world.”

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