Exercise-induced vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is a respiratory dysfunction where athletes’ vocal cords close prematurely, causing partially or fully obstructed air-flow. Due to a resulting severe decrement in performance and lack of efficacious treatments, this study aimed to discover some of the psychological experiences of athletes with VCD symptoms. Semistructured interviews were conducted with five athletes from three different sports and two mothers of participants. Data were coded for meaningful units and themes by the researcher and one independent rater. Ten psychological facets were derived. Based on the data from these five participants, athletes with VCD may have several common psychological experiences, which may possibly be a result of the breathing disorder. The first seven facets highlight that athletes with VCD may be at risk for burnout. The facets identified are a starting point for sport personnel to plan their treatment and support of athletes in their care.
The authors are with the College of Education, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.