The Influence of Social Support on the Lived Experiences of Spinal Cord Injured Sportsmen

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Tim Rees University of Exeter, UK

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Brett Smith University of Exeter, UK

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Andrew C. Sparkes University of Exeter, UK

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This study draws upon life history data to investigate the influence of social support on the lives of 6 men who had acquired a spinal cord injury and become disabled through playing sport. Interviews were analyzed utilizing categorical-content analysis (Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach, & Zilber, 1998). The participants experienced emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible support (Rees & Hardy, 2000) from various sources. Alongside the positive influence of social support, examples are shown of inappropriate or negatively-experienced support and where participants considered sport to be lacking. The spinal cord injured person is encouraged to be proactive in resourcing social support, but providers might also be taught to recognize the impact, either positively or negatively, that their giving support can have.

Tim Rees is with the Exercise and Sport Psychology Unit and Brett Smith and Andrew C. Sparkes are with the Qualitative Research Unit at the University of Exeter, UK.

We would like to thank the English Rugby Football Union and its Sports Injuries Administrator for allowing us to gain access to players who have experienced a SCI through playing this sport. However, the views expressed in this paper are entirely our own and should not be taken to represent those of the English Rugby Football Union or its Sports Injuries Administrator.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tim Rees, Exercise and Sport Psychology Unit, School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, St. Luke’s Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK. E-mail: Tim.J.Rees@exeter.ac.uk.
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