Fear-Avoidance Beliefs and Health-Related Quality of Life in Post-ACL Reconstruction and Healthy Athletes: A Case–Control Study

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Many athletes return to sport after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) with lingering physical or mental health impairments. Examining health-related quality of life (HRQL) and fear-avoidance beliefs across the spectrum of noninjured athletes and athletes with a history of ACLR may provide further insight into targeted therapies warranted for this population. Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine differences in fear-avoidance beliefs and HRQL in college athletes with a history of ACLR not participating in sport (ACLR-NPS), participating in sport (ACLR-PS), and healthy controls (Control) with no history of injury participating in sport. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Laboratory. Patients (or Other Participants): A total of 10 college athletes per group (ACLR-NPS, ACLR-PS, and Control) were included. Participants were included if on a roster of a Division I or III athletic team during data collection. Interventions: Participants completed a demographic survey, the modified Disablement in the Physically Active Scale (mDPA) to assess HRQL, and Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (FABQ) to assess fear-avoidance beliefs. Main Outcome Measures: Scores on the mDPA (Physical and Mental) and FABQ subscales (Sport and Physical Activity) were calculated, a 1-way Kruskal–Wallis test and separate Mann–Whitney U post hoc tests were performed (P < .05). Results: ACLR-NPS (30.00 [26.00]) had higher FABQ-Sport scores than ACLR-PS (18.00 [26.00]; P < .001) and Controls (0.00 [2.50]; P < .001). ACLR-NPS (21.50 [6.25]) had higher FABQ-Physical Activity scores than ACLR-PS (12.50 [13.00]; P = .001) and Controls (0.00 [1.00]; P < .001). Interestingly, ACLR-PS scores for FABQ-Sport (P = .01) and FABQ-Physical Activity (P = .04) were elevated compared with Controls. ACLR-NPS had higher scores on the mDPA-Physical compared with the ACLR-PS (P < .001) and Controls (P < .001), and mDPA-Mental compared with ACLR-PS (P = .01), indicating decreased HRQL. Conclusions: The ACLR-NPS had greater fear-avoidance beliefs and lower HRQL compared with ACLR-PS and Controls. However, the ACLR-PS had higher scores for both FABQ subscales compared with Controls. These findings support the need for additional psychosocial therapies to address fear-avoidance beliefs in the returned to sport population.

J.M. Hoch and M.C. Hoch are with the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Baez is with Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. Houston is with Keller Army Community Hospital, West Point, NY.

J.M. Hoch (Johanna.hoch@uky.edu) is corresponding author.
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