There is a generally well-established body of academic literature that investigates the phenomenon of home advantage in sport. Courneya and Carron reviewed studies that documented the extent of the home advantage and concluded that it exists in major team sports . They went on to develop a conceptual framework for home advantage research, according to which ‘performance’ is a function of: game location (i.e. home or away); game location factors that differentially impact on teams competing at home or away from home; and the critical psychological and behavioural states of competitors, coaches and officials. A subsequent review by Carron, Loughead and Bray proposed a slightly revised conceptual framework . Table 1 compares the components of the two models. There are two major differences between the original model and the revised model. First, ‘officials’ were excluded from the latter, not because they do not potentially contribute to home advantage but as, unlike competitors and coaches, they do not have a designated home or visitor status. Second, the revised model incorporated the critical physiological factors of competitors and coaches (e.g. testosterone and jet lag).
More recently Jamieson conducted a meta-analysis of studies on home advantage  and suggested that theoretical models would benefit from the inclusion of game-context factors, specifically when a contest occurs (time era effects) and what attributes are associated with particular contests (season length effects and sport effects), which may directly feed into game location factors. Differences in the magnitude of the home advantage between sports, and within sports over time, were also identified previously by Pollard and Pollard  when considering professional team sports in North America (American football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey) and England (football). With respect to individual sports, a review by Jones found mixed evidence for home advantage in comparison with the more robust evidence of its presence in team sports .
A subset of home advantage research is concerned with international multi-sport events, although these studies are rarely cited, or analysed as a separate category, in major literature reviews. For the most part, the Summer Olympic Games have been at the heart of previous research efforts [6,7,8,9,10,11,12]. A limited number of studies to date have examined home advantage in the context of the Winter Olympic Games [12,13,14] and the Commonwealth Games [15,16,17]. However, within home advantage research in general and its investigation within multi-sport events more specifically, there is a distinct lack of studies in relation to sports events that are targeted at elite athletes with a disability such as the Paralympic Games. It is this gap in the scientific knowledge that this paper attempts to address by focussing on the Winter Paralympic Games. To date, there have been 11 editions of the Winter Paralympic Games from 1976 to 2014. Nine different nations have hosted the competition in this time frame: Sweden (1976); Norway (1980 and 1994); Austria (1984 and 1988); France (1992); Japan (1998); USA (2002); Italy (2006); Canada (2010); Russia (2014). Between 1976 and 2014, the programme of the Winter Paralympic Games has incorporated six different sports: para alpine skiing (1976–2014); para cross country skiing (1976–2014); para biathlon (1988–2014); ice sledge speed skating (1980–1988 and 1994–1998); ice sledge hockey (1994–2014); wheelchair curling (2006–2014). Para snowboard made its Winter Paralympic Games debut as a discipline under para alpine skiing in 2014. The number of events contested in these sports in each edition of the Winter Paralympic Games is presented in Table 2. Overall, 739 of the 939 events contested between 1976 and 2014 (84%) have been in two sports, namely alpine skiing (49%) and cross country skiing (35%).
Even though home advantage in para sports has not been investigated thus far, it has been documented to a certain extent in specific winter sports among non-disabled athletes. Bray and Carron found some evidence of home advantage in elite-level alpine skiing including statistical significance on some measures . A subsequent study by Balmer et al. examined home advantage in the Winter Olympic Games from 1908 to 1998 . Their study also reported evidence of home advantage in alpine skiing, which reinforces the findings from Bray and Carron’s study. Figure skating, freestyle skiing, ski jumping and short track speed skating were the other sports found by Balmer et al. to exhibit a significant home advantage. On the other hand, they found little or no home advantage in cross country skiing, biathlon, ice hockey and speed skating amongst other sports (Nordic combined, bobsled and luge). When events were grouped according to whether they were subjectively assessed by judges, significantly greater home advantage was observed in the subjectively assessed events (figure skating and freestyle skiing) than other events (p < 0.05), suggesting that judges were scoring home competitors disproportionately higher than away competitors . Home advantage in subjectively assessed events has also been shown to exist in other international multi-sport competitions featuring summer sports [6, 16, 17]. However, none of the sports in the Winter Paralympic Games programme between 1976 and 2014 were reliant on subjective scoring by judges.
Following the Balmer et al. study , attempts to examine home advantage in international competitions that feature winter sports have been few and far between. Koning analysed elite speed skating data from World Cups, World Championships and the Winter Olympic Games from 1986 to 2003 and found that a competitor skated faster at home than in another country, although the magnitude of the home advantage was very small . To the best of our knowledge, there has been no formal investigation into home advantage in the sport of curling. Recently, Pettigrew and Reiche used a linear regression model to examine the size of the home advantage effect at country level in the Winter Olympic Games over 17 editions between 1952 and 2014 . While this study showed that host countries tend to increase their number of gold medals by around two and their total medal count by around four compared to the Games prior to hosting, neither of the results were found to be statistically significant at conventional levels. Our research is the first attempt to directly measure the size of the home advantage in the Winter Paralympic Games. The objectives of the research were as follows:
To analyse the overall performance of host nations in the Winter Paralympic Games when competing at home and away from home.
To examine sport-specific variations in home advantage in the Winter Paralympic Games.
To compare the size of the home advantage effect in the Winter Paralympic Games with the Winter Olympic Games.